UCSD School of Medicine researchers report on drug-resistant TB testing

Rapid TB testing to decrease drug resistance and mortality rates
Rapid TB testing to decrease drug resistance and mortality rates | Courtesy of

Scientists from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine recently documented three new tests and their accuracy in rapidly diagnosing drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB).

Drug-resistant strains of TB are much more difficult and costly to treat. The strains also pose a serious threat to worldwide public health.

"Our study shows that TB testing that once took two to three months can now be done in as little as a day," study co-author Richard Garfein said. "This means we can put people on the right medications sooner, spare them the toxic effects of drugs that are ineffective and prevent the development of drug-resistant forms of TB that can occur when the wrong medications are given."

TB rates have reduced steadily in the U.S., but it is still one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world. Approximately 1.5 million people died from TB in 2013.

"The results from this international collaboration take us one step closer to achieving the World Health Organization's goal of reducing deaths due to TB by 95 percent by 2050," Antonino Catanzaro, the study's lead author, said. "Rapid, accurate drug susceptibility tests are critical for physicians. They help us ensure that patients receive the appropriate anti-TB drugs to combat their specific form of tuberculosis. When patients receive the proper drug treatment, we see a large reduction in TB mortality."

Further details are available online in PLOS ONE’s current issue.

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University of California, San Diego

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