Washington, Mar 8: A research team, led by an Indian researcher at Imperial College London has developed a new blood test that can detect tuberculosis (TB) infection within few days rather than weeks.
Professor Ajit Lalvani, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London and his colleagues have revealed that the new blood test ELISpot-Plus, combined with a skin test known as tuberculin skin testing, can determine that a patient does not have tuberculosis with 99 percent accuracy within 48 hours.
The ELISpot-Plus test detects a particular response that occurs once the immune system stumble upon TB infection. It searches for a protein known as interferon-Y that is secreted by T cells in the immune system.
ELISpot-Plus alone was accurately able to determine TB infection in 89 percent of cases while tuberculin skin testing alone could determine TB infection in 79 percent cases.
The study showed that using both tests together could rule out TB infection with an accuracy of 99 percent.
"Our study shows that by using the new blood test, together with the old skin test, we could establish if someone does not have TB within two days of them coming in for tests, allowing doctors to focus on other possible diagnoses," said Professor Lalvani.
"If we cannot rule out TB, we can then refer them for further testing to confirm the diagnosis. Using this new system would allow us to treat patients much more quickly and effectively," he added.
The new test combination would be able to prevent patients who do not have TB from being subjected to further lengthy TB tests and can allow doctors to establish which patients require further TB testing and which do not.