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Now There’s a Breath Test For Tuberculosis

Menssana Research, Inc is touting results from a trial testing its Breathscanner for diagnosing patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis. Menssana has developed technology that may bring breath testing for a variety of conditions, including the already FDA approved breath test for heart transplant rejection.

Some details about the technology from Menssana:

The Mycobacteria that cause pulmonary TB generate a very distinctive pattern of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when grown in the laboratory. If these VOCs could also be detected in the breath of infected patients, it might provide a new method for detecting active infection with pulmonary TB.

The National Institutes of Health (NIAID) awarded Menssana Research a Phase I SBIR grant to test the feasibility of this idea. We analyzed breath VOCs in hospitalized patients who were being screened for pulmonary TB at New York University Medical Center, New York. We also analyzed the VOCs manufactured by Mycobacteria grown in the laboratory at Saint Vincents Medical Center, New York.

We found that breath biomarkers of oxidative stress clearly distinguished between the “sick” hospitalized patients and normal controls. Also, breath VOCs accurately identified the patients whose sputum samples grew Mycobacteria – the VOC biomarkers in breath and in sputum cultures were very similar (see pdf).

Based on these encouraging findings, NIH/NIAID awarded Menssana Research a Phase II SBIR grant to validate the breath test for pulmonary TB in a larger multicenter international study performed in San Diego, London, and two sites in the Philippines and Mexico. The results, soon to be published in the journal Tuberculosis showed that the breath test identified active pulmonary TB with 85% accuracy.

The US Air Force is currently funding a new study of a point-of-care breath test for active pulmonary TB that delivers results in minutes.

Abstract in journal Tuberculosis: Breath biomarkers of active pulmonary tuberculosis

Link: Menssaba breath test for pulmonary tuberculosis…

Press release: Breath Test for Pulmonary Tuberculosis …

Flashback: The Breathscanner 1.0…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*


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One Response to “Now There’s a Breath Test For Tuberculosis”

  1. Robert says:

    The TB test I’ve known always involved poking the skin and a second visit. This looks a lot easier and non-invasive. I wasn’t aware that TB was still such a problem here in the States, but it’s a great step forward.

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