Faster, More Accurate TB Test Developed

International team says new MODS analysis approaches 98% sensitivity in detecting disease

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A new tuberculosis test that's more sensitive, faster and cheaper than current culture-based tests has been developed by an international team of researchers.

A study of the new test -- called microscopic-observation-drug-susceptibility (MODS) -- is published in the Oct. 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"In the fight to stop the spread of TB, new diagnostic tools are urgently needed to detect TB and multidrug-resistant TB. MODS is just such a tool. It will change the practice of TB testing in developing countries," said the study senior author, Dr. Robert H. Gilman, an international health professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States.

He and his colleagues collected 3,760 samples of sputum-saliva mixed with respiratory discharge in order to test MODS against the two current gold standard TB tests -- the Lowenstein-Jensen culture and the automated mycobacterial culture (using the MBBacT system).

The sensitivity of detecting TB was 97.8 percent for MODS culture, 89 percent for automated mycobacterial culture, and 84 percent for Lowenstein-Jensen culture. The median time for detection of TB was seven days for MODS culture, 13 days for automated mycobacterial culture, and 26 days for Lowenstein-Jensen culture.

The study authors believe MODS will have a major impact on TB in developing countries, where resources are limited. TB kills about two million people each year worldwide. Poor people are disproportionately affected by the disease.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about tuberculosis.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, news release, Oct. 7, 2006
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