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Biotech Innovations
February 13, 2018

Urine Test for Tuberculosis in Development

JAMA. 2018;319(6):539. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0241

An international team of researchers is developing a nanotechnology-based urine test for active tuberculosis (TB) infection that could allow for better diagnosis and treatment management in resource-strapped settings. According to World Health Organization estimates, there were 10.4 million new TB infections globally and more than 1.6 million deaths from TB in 2016.

Skin and blood tests for TB cannot distinguish between active and latent disease. Currently, active TB infection can be noninvasively detected in the general population with a sputum test, but sputum culture is time consuming—results take at least 2 weeks—and requires specialized laboratory facilities and staff. Collecting sputum samples, which must be coughed up, is also difficult, especially in children, the elderly, and immunocompromised patients.