Scientists have found a low-cost imaging technique that can diagnose live tuberculosis bacteria in an hour.
The new technique, described in the journal Science Translational Medicine, is cost-effective and easier to carry out, ideally enabling healthcare providers in unprivileged communities to adopt the technology.
As per current technique, TB diagnoses is done by collecting a split sample, cultivate it in the lab, and wait for the bacteria to grow to a detectable level.
It also requires specialised facilities, which are missing in many hospitals worldwide.
The new imaging technique uses run-of-the-mill fluorescence microscopes that nearly all hospitals have and no special training required, he said.
Patient sputum or a spit sample is needed, that can be put under the microscope for analysis.
The probe is combined with the spit sample and gets activated, or “switched on,” when it comes in contact with TB bacteria.
The technique could help scientists developing new TB drugs figure out which drugs work best for each particular strain.