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Blood test may be answer to diagnosing active tuberculosis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that over 1.5 million patients worldwide die from tuberculosis every year, largely because no proper test exists to diagnose the disease when it is active. Connecticut doctors and patients alike might be happy to learn that researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new blood test that could change this.

TB is an infectious bacterial disease that is contagious when it is active. Skin-prick and blood tests are the traditional methods for detecting it, but they do not distinguish between patients who have active TB, who are vaccinated or who have overcome the disease. Doctors also have trouble identifying the disease in HIV patients.

Researchers at Stanford have discovered a gene expression "signature" that distinguishes between active and latent TB. The Khatri blood test only requires a normal blood sample. It can identify every strain of TB, including those that have become resistant to antibiotics, and even detect TB in HIV patients. Additionally, the test does not show a positive result in patients who have latent TB or are vaccinated.

The researchers came to these conclusions after testing 400 human samples from 11 data sets. They found that a negative result was 99 percent accurate. This fills a need that the World Health Organization identified for improved diagnostic methods for the disease. In 2014, it asked for a method that provides a positive outcome in a minimum 66 percent of children with active TB. The researchers say that the Khatri blood test exceeds this at 86 percent.

The prompt and proper diagnosis of diseases like TB is paramount so that patients can begin treatment. When a delayed diagnosis occurs and leads to complications and a worsened medical condition, a medical malpractice attorney may be of assistance in determining whether it constituted actionable negligence.

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