A new blood test provides a fast and accurate tool to diagnose tuberculosis in children, a new proof-of-concept study shows. The newly developed test (TAM-TB assay) is the first reliable immunodiagnostic assay to detect active tuberculosis in children.
The test features excellent specificity, a similar sensitivity as culture tests in combination with speed of a blood test. The promising findings are a major advance for the diagnosis of tuberculosis in children, particularly in tuberculosis-endemic regions.
The new so-called TAM-TB assay is a sputum-independent blood test. It makes use of an immunological phenomenon during tuberculosis disease: During an active infection, the expression of CD27 — a surface marker expressed on mycobacteria specific CD4+ T cells — is lost. Using standard intracellular cytokine staining procedures and polychromatic flow cytometry, the test result is available within 24 hours after blood sampling.
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