Using Proteins to Predict Active TB

Using Proteins to Predict Active TB

Biomarkers indicating the occurrence of active and contagious tuberculosis (TB) before someone develops symptoms would especially help people living with HIV (PLHIV). Not everyone infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the bacterium that causes TB) will develop the disease; but PLHIV are at high risk for TB and progress to serious illness or death once they do. Diagnosing TB requires finding Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum or other body fluids.

In a study that involved periodically analyzing the plasma of latently infected PLHIV, Jacqueline Achkar, M.D., M.Sc., and colleagues identified panels of 5 to 12 human host plasma proteins—detectable via simple and rapid tests—that correlate with increasing bacterial burden as early as two years before TB diagnosis. These protein panels could be useful for detecting very early and still asymptomatic disease prior to TB diagnosis and—if integrated into routine outpatient follow-up visits of PLHIV—for predicting whether asymptomatically infected individuals will develop TB. The findings were published online on December 27 in eBioMedicine.

Dr. Achkar is professor of medicine and of microbiology & immunology, and is co-director of the Global Health Center and associate director for translational research at the Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP) at Einstein, and an attending physician at Montefiore Medical Center.

Einstein is currently seeking licensing partners able to further develop and commercialize this work.

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