A group of scientists created a two-piece fluorescent probe that activates when it comes into contact with tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in phlegm. The technique can diagnose live tuberculosis in an hour and aid in monitoring treatment efficacy.
Current TB diagnosis methods can take up to two months to complete, giving infected people time to spread the disease even if they are unaware they are infected. A quicker diagnosis could reduce the number of infections. Furthermore, the new method is less expensive and simpler to implement, allowing healthcare providers in poorer communities to adopt the technology.
To diagnose tuberculosis, clinicians must collect a sputum sample, culture it in the lab, and wait for the bacteria to grow to detectable levels. It also necessitates specialized facilities, which are lacking in many hospitals worldwide. The new imaging technique, on the other hand, employs standard fluorescence microscopes available in nearly all hospitals and does not require special training, according to the researcher. All that is required is a sample of the patient’s sputum that can be prepared and analyzed under a microscope.
The strategy employs a newly developed two-piece fluorescent probe mixed with the sputum sample and activates when it comes into contact with TB bacteria. The first part of the probe detects live TB, resulting in the telltale glow, while the second part—a molecule that binds specifically to the TB microbe—localizes the glow to the bacterium.