Low-cost TB test to help millions of patients

Scottish-led project aims to tackle global threat of disease by developing easy to use tests for use in poor & remote areas

Monday 19th August 2019

A team of Scottish-led international researchers are developing low-cost, easy to use tests for tuberculosis which could help millions of patients around the world.

Many countries with high rates of the disease currently rely on diagnostic methods which require skilled staff, significant funding and facilities which are difficult to set up and maintain in remote locations.

The project, being led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, aims to provide affordable, accurate tests for TB - that require minimal training and expertise - in poor and hard to reach areas.

The technology will enable doctors to interpret test results, log location details of patients and transmit data for reporting cases.  

TB is the leading cause of death worldwide from infectious disease, with more than ten million new cases each year.

Project leader Dr Seshasailam Venkateswaran, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry, said the tests will provide “timely and accurate” diagnosis of TB, enabling precise treatment and limiting the spread of the disease.

He added: “The project is driven by a practical need to achieve diagnosis of TB and drug resistance and a seamless collection of data at low costs with minimal training and expertise.”

The new diagnosis tool is part of a €4.5m (£4.1m) project - known as Accurate, Rapid, Robust and Economical diagnostic technologies for Tuberculosis (ARREST-TB) – to help tackle the global threat of the disease.

The ARREST-TB team brings together clinicians, biologists, chemists, physicists and engineers from Italy, India, Russia, Spain and Scotland.

It is led by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry alongside Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, the University of Padova, the Central Tuberculosis Research Institute in Moscow, and India’s National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis.