TB rates are at unprecedented high levels in sub Saharan Africa . TB Incidence in South Africa, estimated at 1,000 per 100,000, is the world’s third highest; 65% of TB patients are HIV coinfected . Children in resource-limited settings with high burden of TB and HIV suffer substantial, but often underappreciated TB disease burden. Young children have a high risk of developing active disease and a propensity to develop severe and disseminated forms of disease following exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Existing diagnostic tools fail to confirm TB in the majority of children, who typically have disease with low bacterial counts and who cannot provide sputum samples. More sensitive and child-friendly diagnostic tools are urgently needed to diagnose TB.
We have developed an antibody-based diagnostic assay to detect TB using small volume blood samples. The assay detects a biomolecule found in the blood that is altered in the presence of TB disease. We are currently studying the relationship between TB disease state and the levels of the biomolecule.
Research will be undertaken at STIAS to validate the use of this assay as a minimally invasive, robust, serum-based diagnostic tool for detection and monitoring of tuberculosis in children.