Research identifies a gene signature for early diagnosis of tuberculosis

TB kills 1.6m yearly

A new research has identified a gene signature in the bloodstream that could determine whether a person is going to develop active tuberculosis months before symptoms of the infection appears.

The research published in the journal, Nature Communications, the researchers looked at 53 patients who had TB and followed 108 of their close contacts over two years to see who developed TB.

READ: Tuberculosis: What you should Know

The team found that individuals who stayed healthy had no sustained gene signature, while six of nine people who developed active TB had a strong, sustained signature.

According to Chief Medical Officer, bioMérieux, Mark Miller, the multidisciplinary team effort hopes to address the unmet medical need of diagnosing active tuberculosis earlier, more easily and more reliably.

“The gene signature refers to the group of genes that are either more or less active during active TB, which indicates how the body has responded to the infection. It is the first time the presence of such a signature has been linked to early TB onset before symptoms have developed. The study could have important implications for the detection and treatment of TB, as well as for the possibility of intervening before people with TB pose a risk of transmitting the infection to others.”

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The team also plans to investigate what the different responses mean, which will require detailed study of larger groups of people. Their ultimate goal is to develop and test different gene signatures in larger groups of people, with the aim of being able to offer validated tests to patients within the next decade.

The study was led by the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Leicester, in collaboration with BIOASTER and bioMérieux in France, as well as the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

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