Gerard Cangelosi and colleagues at the UW Foundation in the U.S. will develop an oral swabbing method as a lower-cost safe and simple way to diagnose tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a major global health threat and prompt diagnosis and treatment are critical for reducing spread. Currently a diagnosis is made by testing sputum from deep in the lungs produced by coughing. This can be difficult to collect and produce particularly for children and hazardous for health care workers. They previously found that DNA from the causative Mycobacterium tuberculosis accumulates on oral epithelial cells in infected adults and can be detected by non-invasively swabbing the mouth followed by quantitative PCR analysis. They will improve the sensitivity of this method in adults by testing different swabbing materials and protocols using around 175 suspected tuberculosis-positive patients in a clinic in South Africa. If successful they will test whether their method can also be used to diagnose tuberculosis in children.
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