Tuberculosis may not be a deadly disease in the Western world anymore, but a lot of people living in the developing world still die annually because medical professionals do not have a proper test for tuberculosis.
That is, until now, because thanks to a team at the Stanford University School of Medicine, a new test called the Khatri blood test could revolutionize the diagnosing of tuberculosis.
This simple blood test is also able to identify which patients suffer from active infections, and serve in treatment of the condition. Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease often resulting from the patient being infected by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
In most cases, the disease affects the lungs, but other organs can also be infected – including the spine, kidneys or even the brain.
Tuberculosis is an airborne disease, which means that infections spread through sneezing, coughing, speaking or singing, especially when the infected people are really near to those without the disease.
Sharing toothbrushes, food or drinks and kissing does not contaminate the uninfected persons. Tuberculosis can be fatal, and it was once the leading cause of death among Americans.
Each year, more than 1.5 million people die worldwide because they are infected with the potentially-fatal bacteria, and hundreds of millions more people are contaminated but survive.
According to the study published by Purvesh Khatri of the Stanford University School of Medicine in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, a whopping “one-third of the world’s population is currently infected with TB.”
Even if only 10 percent of them would get active TB, they still amount to 240 million people across the globe.
Previous TB tests dealt mostly with analyzing the sputum – the secretions building up in the respiratory system of potentially-infected patients.
One of the obstacles in using this testing method is that mucus gradually reduces when patients start recovering, making it difficult for doctors to obtain samples for analysis.
The new Khatri blood test – named after its creator – was found to be 86 percent effective in children. Researchers found the diagnosing method never produces false positives for people who have been vaccinated against tuberculosis, or for those with an inactive infection.
As stated in the report, negative results in patients are 99 percent accurate, as the Khatri test detects a gene variation signature that’s only present in people who have active TB infections.
The new test is expected to be inexpensive and easy to use, meaning that health care centers in the developing world should soon be fitted with facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of local populations.
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