New Test to ‘Revolutionize’ TB Diagnosis, Treatment

A man looks for smear-positive tuberculosis in a specimen. A new test for diagnosing TB could revolutionize the treatment and elimination of the disease. Photo by: Trygve Berge / CC BY NC-SA Trygve BergeCC BY NC-SA

A new test for diagnosing tuberculosis has been developed and could revolutionize the global effort to treat and eliminate the disease, scientists and health experts have noted.

The test, which was developed through a program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. government, can reportedly diagnose tuberculosis and determine if it is drug-resistant in less than two hours, The Associated Press reports. The test has a “very high accuracy” level, scientists have noted.

“You can tell the patient before they leave the office if they have TB and if it’s drug-resistant. It’s transformational,” Dr. Peter Small, head of the tuberculosis program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said as quoted by AP.

The World Health Organization is set to meet with experts in the next few days to review the test results and plan the way forward, according to one of its tuberculosis experts.

The new test is expected to replace the century-old diagnostic process that clinics and hospitals all over the world still use and which the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases describe as “antiquated.”

Aside from the U.S. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the development of the test was supported by Cepheid, a California-based diagnostic firm, the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey and the Swiss-based Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.