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16 April 2019 Latest Research: Discovery and validation of a prognostic proteomic signature for tuberculosis progression: A prospective cohort study

17 Apr 2019 - 08:15

SATVI authors Drs. Adam Penn-Nicholson, Stanley Kimbung Mbandi, Michelle Fisher, Professors Mark Hatherill and Tom Scriba have co-authored a paper titled "Discovery and validation of a prognostic proteomic signature for tuberculosis progression: A prospective cohort study" appearing in the Plos Medicine journal.  

Click here to read article. 

Author Summary

Why was this study done?
Tuberculosis (TB) is currently the leading cause of death by an infectious disease, yet diagnosis of TB is still hampered by poor tools that require a sputum sample.
An accurate, affordable, and easy-to-use diagnostic test would allow targeted antibiotic treatment before symptoms develop and the person becomes infectious, thus providing an opportunity to curb transmission and halt the global epidemic.


What did the researchers do and find?
In this study, we sought to develop a blood test that can predict if a healthy individual is likely to progress to active TB disease before clinical symptoms manifest. We analyzed plasma from healthy South African adolescents who were followed over 2 years. By comparing abundance of over 3,000 different plasma proteins from individuals who developed TB disease and others who remained healthy, we identified 2 biomarkers that comprised combinations of either 3 or 5 proteins and predicted onset of TB a year before traditional diagnosis was possible. The protein biomarkers were validated for accuracy in an independent cohort of individuals from The Gambia.


What do these findings mean?
To our knowledge, these are the first validated protein biomarkers with prognostic value for TB; however, neither meet the minimum performance criteria as set out by WHO for a TB progression test. More work is required to improve the performance of such tests for practical identification of individuals for investigation of incipient, subclinical, or active TB disease.