Linda Stewart and Irene Grant of Queen's University, Belfast in the United Kingdom have developed an immunoassay to help determine the incidence of Mycobacterium bovis, which causes tuberculosis in humans and cattle at currently unknown levels. Tuberculosis caused by M.bovis is resistant to a drug commonly used to treat tuberculosis caused by the more prevalent M. tuberculosis, but the diseases are indistinguishable. They have developed a quick and simple test to assay for the presence of M.bovis-specific antigens, which they identified by irradiating a virulent strain to render it inviable while maintaining critical cell surface protein structures. By collaborating with an African institute, they will refine their assay and evaluate its ability to detect M.bovis in human sputum or urine samples.
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