42 TechnologyNewsImproved tuberculosis diagnosis

Improved tuberculosis diagnosis

42 Technology and Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics partner to deliver improved TB diagnosis

42 Technology is working closely with FIND, an international non-profit organization, to significantly improve the sensitivity of tuberculosis diagnosis. The approaches being investigated should enable easier and earlier identification of infected patients using a new diagnostic test for TB.

FIND and 42 Technology started working together in 2009 to devise novel concepts to safely transfer precise volumes of infected sputum samples for application in the field. The initial outcome of the unique combination of FIND’s scientific and medical expertise and 42 Technology’s technology and product engineering was sufficiently promising that the affiliation has been extended into a longer term project.

The approaches now being developed by the 42 Technology-FIND team are designed to extract and concentrate TB bacillus from small samples to increase the sensitivity of subsequent test methods. Sputum is a difficult, highly variable medium to work with, but the sooner patients can be positively identified from these samples, the faster treatment can start, and the lower the chances of the spread of infection. Improvements in the process for sample concentration could also be applied to other diagnostic tests.

“42 Technology is an excellent product and process development partner to help improve the performance of one of our most promising new TB diagnostic tests. The consultancy’s product engineering, project management and creative skills are helping our medical and clinical teams in Uganda and Geneva to consider alternative approaches to optimising test methodologies. Our objective is to improve test sensitivity, therefore allowing patients to start treatment before transmitting the disease.

Dr Mark Perkins, CSO at FIND

TB is a huge health burden in developing countries, and its spread is facilitated by the well known difficulties in making an early diagnosis. The most common diagnostic relies on sputum smear microscopy, which is both cumbersome and insensitive, especially in patients in the early stages of disease, those with HIV co-infection and children.