Medical team has found new diagnostic tests to detect TB

Dr Nontuthuko Maningi says more work need to be done on the TB treatment itself to shorten the duration that a patient is on treatment, something that will reduce the side-effects experienced.
Dr Nontuthuko Maningi says more work need to be done on the TB treatment itself to shorten the duration that a patient is on treatment, something that will reduce the side-effects experienced.
Image: Supplied

Dr Nontuthuko Maningi and her team at the University of Pretoria's (UP's) medical microbiology's department have developed new diagnostic tests to improve with detecting multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

The current diagnostic tests were limited in the information they provide and do not offer conclusive results on whether a patient has MDR-TB.

"We have found new diagnostic markers of TB resistance genes that can be used to improve on the spectrum and application of new diagnostic assays. Current diagnostic assays are missing some resistance cases, that is when a patient infected with a resistant TB strain is not diagnosed with drug-resistant TB because the strain's resistance is not detectable via the currently available diagnostic," she said.

Maningi and her group have visited a number of sites, including Stanza Bopape in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, to identify missing TB patients.

"We engage with communities to find out about their symptoms and relatives who might be sick. With their permission, we swab their mouths in order to run tests in the UP lab. Once results are confirmed, patients are advised to seek treatment at health clinics," Maningi said.

She said their successes to date, include the timeous detection of patients who had TB unknown to themselves, and these patients are then referred to various TB clinics for treatment.

Maningi said more work needed to be done on the treatment itself to shorten the duration that a patient is on treatment... something that will reduce the side-effects experienced.

Maningi said there were three types of drug-resistant TB.

"The first MDR-TB is resistant to the two most powerful first-line drugs used in the treatment of susceptible TB.

"The second one is a more severe form of drug-resistant TB known as the extensively drug-resistant TB; and the totally drug-resistant TB which is a new, unstoppable strain that does not respond to any drug that is currently available."

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