Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Scientists discover biomarkers that could help change diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis

Read time: 2 mins

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one third of the world’s population is  infected with Tuberculosis (TB) . India accounts for the quarter of the world’s burden of TB and has the highest number of multidrug resistant TB  cases worldwide. While multidrug resistant TB poses a major challenge for healthcare providers worldwide, many steps have been taken to treat this form of disease and control its spread. Currently available tools for monitoring the treatment of TB depend on clinical assessments and traditional inflammatory markers like erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C - reactive protein and white blood cell count. These tests have to be performed multiple times to check the presence of the disease during and after the treatment.  While the absence of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture after 2 months of treatment is a reliable biomarker for adults. In the case of children, only 30% of children show positive Mycobacterium tuberculosis cultures at diagnosis. TB patients also show a high variability in the manifestation and the extent of the disease which makes treatment complicated. To tackle these problems, scientists from University of Bergen, AIIMS Delhi, Leiden University Medical Center and GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines have studied various biomarkers that can increase the predictability of the presence or absence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a patient, 6 months after treatment. The team presented first of its kind results of 11 different biomarkers that can predict the presence of an infection. Testing these biomarkers on 99 Indian children with intrathoracic tuberculosis, they found that the abundance of these markers is correlated with the bacterial load in the body. BLR1 and FCGR1A biomarkers were seen to be correlated with treatment outcomes at 6 months after treatment, predicting the outcome with greater than 70% accuracy. These new biomarkers will surely help us take a step towards a TB free tomorrow.