Study shows new TB test is quick, accurate

A recent proof-of-concept study conducted by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute showed that a new blood test could serve as a fast and accurate tool to diagnose tuberculosis in children.

The study, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, examined the sputum-independent blood test known as the TAM-TB assay, ScienceDaily reports.

The researchers used the test to examine blood and sputum samples from children with tuberculosis in parts of Tanzania stricken with the disease. In comparing the assay with culture tests, the researchers found that the new diagnostic had good sensitivity and specificity.

"This rapid and reliable test has the great potential to significantly improve the diagnosis of active tuberculosis in children," Klaus Reither, the TB CHILD program manager with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, said, according to ScienceDaily.

The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, in conjunction with Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt Munchen, will aim to further refine the test to optimize its performance. Researchers hope to use the assay with HIV-infected children and lower its cost, ScienceDaily reports.

Approximately one million children worldwide develop tuberculosis every year. The disease can be a serious public health problem for children in countries with limited resources, as obtaining adequate respiratory symptoms for testing can be problematic and the disease often has symptoms similar to other common pediatric illnesses.