Indian origin researcher finds gene-expression for early detection of tuberculosis

indica News Bureau-

A new finding in medical science by a team of researchers, including one of Indian-origin, Rishi Gupta, has found that a blood-test can detect tuberculosis three to six months before its onset in patients, helping doctors cure the disease at a much earlier stage and helping in better use of antibiotics.

The findings were first published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

For this study, researchers initially conducted a systematic review of published gene signatures found to be present in blood samples from people with TB, compared to healthy individuals. From this, 17 candidate gene expression signatures for TB were identified, and tested in more than 1,100 blood samples in published data sets from South Africa, Ethiopia, The Gambia, and the UK.

Scientists analyzed samples from people who had no TB symptoms at the time they gave blood. Those people were then followed up to identify which participants developed TB in the subsequent months. Researchers found that eight of these signatures, including measurement of expression of a single gene, could predict the diagnosis of TB within three to six months, which falls within the accuracy required by the World Health Organization (WHO) for new diagnostic tests. This accuracy was achieved, by revealing the patients’ immune responses to bacteria before the symptoms of the disease develop.

Lead author of the study, Gupta, who is of Indian origin said, “The emergence of gene expression signature tests, which can aid diagnosis and early treatment, provides real hope for the management of infectious diseases.”

“In this study we identify multiple signatures to identify the onset of tuberculosis, which is extremely encouraging, potentially providing multiple targets for early detection,” Gupta added. Further development of these tests could help identify people who will benefit most from preventative antibiotic treatment, in order to reduce the occurrence of tuberculosis, the researchers said.

The researchers at the University College London sought to identify which, if any, gene expression signatures in blood could be used to predict the disease at a very early stage and before symptoms Gene expression signatures are single or combined measurements of levels of specific gene products and are being tested in a range of diseases to aid diagnosis, prognosis or prediction of the response to treatment. Some are already being used to support the management of cancers, but none have reached the clinic in infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), reported IANS.

“Our findings establish the gene signatures in blood which show most promise for identifying people who are at risk of disease,” said study author Mahdad Noursadeghi, Professor at University College London, adding, “Further development of a blood test based on these findings could make an important contribution to efforts to reduce the impact and spread of this deadly infection.”