In an article reported in Analytical Chemistry, researchers have shown promise for an experimental urine test that can detect and monitor the efficacy of tuberculosis (TB) treatment. TB has been described by the researchers as being “on the rampage” in parts of the developing world.
Virander Singh Chauhan and Ranjan Kumar Nanda, team leaders, clarified that each year nearly 10 million people develop TB and around 3 million are consumed by the disease, the vast majority of them being people from poorer nations.
Presently, the technique of identifying bacterium in blood or sputum samples is used in the diagnosis of TB. However, current tests take a long duration including weeks before results are obtained, and they also necessitate specially trained staff and expensive equipment that is not always readily available.
According to the authors, a new test for TB is expected to eventually overcome all these shortcomings.
Volatile organic compounds or VOCs are substances that evaporate into the air. The researchers analyzed VOCs occurring in the urine of TB patients and compared them with those in healthy volunteers.
Similar to unique fingerprint patterns that allow identification of individuals, the authors found distinct and recognizable patterns produced by certain VOCs in TB patients.
The scientists explained that this innovative science of being able to recognize these patterns will pave the way for the development of a portable “electronic nose” that will facilitate rapid sniffing of urine samples for TB detection.