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Detection of tuberculosis in patient samples

By Tim Sandle
Posted Apr 16, 2012 in Science
A method to screen for active tuberculosis using fluorescent technology is being developed.
The Scientist has unrevealed some interesting research.
New technology may soon provide faster and simpler detection for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The technology is designed to make the bacterium fluoresce brightly under the microscope. The technique uses fluorophages (bacteria viruses carrying a fluorescent reporter gene). The researchers infected mycobacteria in tuberculin sputum coughed up from patients’ lungs. Within hours, infected bacteria expressed the reporter and fluoresced at levels high enough to see under a fluorescence microscope
The researchers started with a bacteriophage plasmid with enhanced cloning capacity and added a strong phage promoter. This produces a fluorescent signal 100-fold greater than any previously reported, and mycobacteria-positive clinical samples were detected via microscope without any need for culturing the bacteria. Additionally, the technology lends itself to drug resistance screening. In the presence of antibiotics, drug resistant bacteria continue to glow, while drug sensitive bacteria cannot express the reporter gene.
The research was published in the Journal of Clinical lMicrobiology.

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