Irish researchers develop rapid TB test

A team of researchers at the National University of Ireland - Galway has developed a new tuberculosis test that can identify which bacteria are causing the infectious disease.

Thomas Barry, a microbiology lecturer at the school, and his colleagues at the university's molecular diagnostics research group, developed the SeekTB test, which takes between 90 minutes and three hours to produce results. The diagnostic DNA test rapidly confirms the type of bacteria in an effort to improve the effectiveness of treatment, Irish Times reports.

A group of eight bacteria called the mycobacterium tuberculosis complex can cause TB in humans. Some of the bacteria are naturally resistant to some of the drugs used frequently in treatment. A test that distinguishes which of the eight bacteria caused the infection may help researchers to determine which drugs are most effective against particular kinds of bacteria.

Scientists from Germany and the Netherlands helped the team to validate the SeekTB technique, according to Irish Times.

According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis is second to only HIV/AIDS as the greatest cause of death by one infection. Most cases and fatalities occur in developing nations. In 2010 alone, nearly nine million people were infected with TB and 1.4 million people died as a result.