Professor Bavesh Kana and his team at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), Johannesburg, together with international researchers have pioneered an innovative process to detect TB bacteria by adding a molecule to the bacteria’s own protective layer that illuminates under fluorescent light.
In a paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the team report that Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) specifically can be detected with a flourogenic trehalose analog.
Citation: Mireille Kamariza, Peyton Shieh, Christopher S. Ealand, Julian S. Peters, Brian Chu, Frances P. Rodriguez-Rivera, Mohammed R. Babu Sait, William V. Treuren, Neil Martinson, Rainer Kalscheuer, Bavesh D. Kana and Carolyn R. Bertozzi. Rapid detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum with a solvatochromic trehalose probe. Science Translational Medicine 28 Feb 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 430, eaam6310
This analog, a new stain called DMN-trehalose, lights up only inside living TB bacteria, which mitigates the time-consuming process of washing usually required to reveal bacteria.
Patients with TB can now be more accurately and quickly diagnosed and treated.
“Where we’re positioning the new stain is to create a simpler process, which provides the opportunity to stain TB bacteria in a smear more quickly and with high specificity,” says Professor Bavesh Kana, Head of the Centre of Excellence in Biomedical TB Research at Wits and the NHLS and co-author of the paper.
TB bacteria have traditionally been detected in three ways:
- Sputum [saliva] smear staining microscopy
- Culturing [growing] tubercle bacteria in a laboratory, which takes up to 42 days
- Detection of the DNA of TB bacteria using the GeneXpert machine, which requires the machine
The new DMN-trehalose innovation aims to make smear microscopy easier to perform.