Urine TB test is potentially faster, more effective

A team of scientists recently reported a major advance towards a potentially fast and effective means of testing for tuberculosis using urine.

The study, which appears in the American Chemical Society journal Analytical Chemistry, was conducted by a team led by Virander Singh Chauhan and Ranjan Kumar Nanda. The study was funded by the Indian government’s Department of Biotechnology and International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

The scientists conducted research on volatile organic compounds that easily evaporate in the air and are readily present in urine. They examined the VOCs in the urine of TB patients and compared them with the VOCs in the urine of healthy patients.

The researchers found that TB infection produces a distinct pattern of VOCs that are as unique as fingerprints. Identification of these patterns could potentially lead to the development of a portable electronic device capable of using urine samples to identify TB.

Current TB tests require healthcare workers to identify TB bacterium in sputum or blood samples. The tests are time consuming, sometimes taking days or weeks to achieve results. The testing also requires the use of specially trained personnel and equipment that are sometimes not readily available to those in need.