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Faster TB test 'could save lives'

A faster, more accurate tuberculosis test has been developed by scientists.

The microscopic-observation drug-susceptibility (MODS) test is also cheaper and more sensitive to drug resistant strains than current tests.

It yields results in an average of seven days, and could help save many lives, particularly in developing countries - where TB is rife.

Details of the test, developed by UK, US and Peruvian researchers, feature in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    This is a very exciting development
Professor Peter Davies
TB Alert

The researchers hope it will lead to faster treatment for many people, reducing the severity of their symptoms, and the chances they will infect others.

It is thought that more than two million people die each year from TB.

The common strain is almost 100% treatable, but multi-drug resistant strains are becoming an increasing problem.

At present, the World Health Organization recommends the sputum smear microscopy test, which analyses the material expelled from the lungs by a deep cough.

However, the test, although fast, is not accurate in around 50% of cases, and it can take up to six weeks to culture the sample, confirm the results and determine whether it is resistant to drugs - these detailed checks are only rarely available in the developing world.

The MODS test allows doctors to diagnose TB twice as quickly as previous gold-standard culture tests and to identify multi-drug resistance in a third of the ... continue > 

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Published: 11 October 2006      Ref: BBC News


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