National Physical Laboratory

TB or not TB

NPL and Orla Protein Technologies have taken a step closer to differential diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis - the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB).

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria transmitted through the air and usually attacks the lungs (image courtesy of iStockphoto)
Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria transmitted
through the air and usually attacks the lungs
(image courtesy of iStockphoto)

TB is a common and, in many cases, lethal disease that normally attacks the lungs and is spread through the air by the coughs and sneezes of those infected with M. tuberculosis bacteria.

In a recent study, funded by the Technology Strategy Board as part of the 'Fighting Infection Through Detection' programme, the team from NPL and Orla demonstrated that detection of the interferon-gamma (IFNγ) protein - a measure of the progression of diseases including TB - can be drastically enhanced.

The development of more efficient techniques is necessary because existing methods that detect IFNγ released from T memory cells (white blood cells) in response to M. tuberculosis continue to be associated with false positive and negative results, hampering TB control.

Accurate and precise measurements can lead to more sensitive diagnostic tests that can also significantly reduce the risks of developing active TB from latent infections.

The research team proposed a fundamentally new approach, which benefits from using model surfaces provided by Orla that immobilise and control the orientation of the IFNγ antibodies. This enables quantitative IFNγ capture at very low (nanomolar) concentrations in complex biological matrices such as cell cultures and serum.

The successful results of the project have prompted the team to pursue further exploitation routes towards the development of generic molecular diagnostic platforms that could be used to detect a wide variety of different diseases.

Project launch announcement

More on NPL's work in Biotechnology

For further information, please contact Max Ryadnov

Last Updated: 3 May 2012
Created: 7 Dec 2011