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New genetic test could help identify drug-resistant strains of TB

New genetic test could help identify drug-resistant strains of TB

Scientists from Germany, the UK and South Africa have devised a new genetic test that could help to improve the effectiveness of tuberculosis (TB) treatment.

The research, published online in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, led to the development of a new genetic test that can predict whether a person’s TB will be resistant to antibiotic treatment, as well as whether a certain treatment is likely to be effective against the bacteria that causes the condition.

The scientists studied the genetic details of around 3,500 different types of TB, paying particular attention to the aspects of the bacteria that seem to relate to antibiotic resistance. This gave them a base of information on the strains of TB that may not respond to certain medicines due to their genetic make-up. 

Further work needs to be done before this test could be widely used by healthcare professionals, but the researchers are positive that this method could significantly cut down the time taken to ascertain whether a person has drug-resistant TB and to work out the most effective treatment option.

Most TB tests currently rely on methods where a bacteria sample is taken from a person and grown within a lab setting, however results can take around 6 weeks, which can delay the treatment process.

Read the original news story.

Read the journal article.