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National U of Singapore, FIND Team on TB Marker Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National University of Singapore said today that researchers from its Singapore Lipidomics Incubator will collaborate with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics to identify biomarkers for detection of active tuberculosis.

The partners intend to develop a rapid, point-of-care test that it more specific than currently offered antigen tests.

Researchers at NUS have used mass spectrometry to determine the precise bacterial remnant in sputum. They determined that certain mycolic acids, which are found on the cell wall of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, are specific to TB disease.

The research team also said that a preclinical study showed that their methodology could distinguish between active TB cases and those cured of the disease.

"A sensitive, pathogen-specific, point-of-care test for TB case detection would represent a breakthrough in TB diagnostics for disease endemic settings, but we have so far been hampered by a lack of appropriate biomarkers," Gerd Michel, senior technology officer at FIND, said in a statement. "Through our partnership with NUS, we aim to address this fundamental gap by developing high performance reagents, which we will be able to then convert into a laboratory-free rapid test for TB."

NUS will focus on continued development of the test, while FIND will provide its expertise in diagnostic product development. The partners intend to conduct evaluation and demonstration studies and then submit the test for endorsement by the World Health Organization, before being rolled out in TB-endemic countries.

Further terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

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