Diagnostic 'omics' for active tuberculosis

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The decision to treat active tuberculosis (TB) is dependent on microbiological tests for the organism or evidence of disease compatible with TB in people with a high demographic risk of exposure. The tuberculin skin test and peripheral blood interferon-γ release assays do not distinguish active TB from a cleared or latent infection. Microbiological culture of mycobacteria is slow. Moreover, the sensitivities of culture and microscopy for acid-fast bacilli and nucleic acid detection by PCR are often compromised by difficulty in obtaining samples from the site of disease. Consequently, we need sensitive and rapid tests for easily obtained clinical samples, which can be deployed to assess patients exposed to TB, discriminate TB from other infectious, inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, and to identify subclinical TB in HIV-1 infected patients prior to commencing antiretroviral therapy. We discuss the evaluation of peripheral blood transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics to develop the next generation of rapid diagnostics for active TB. We catalogue the studies published to date seeking to discriminate active TB from healthy volunteers, patients with latent infection and those with other diseases. We identify the limitations of these studies and the barriers to their adoption in clinical practice. In so doing, we aim to develop a framework to guide our approach to discovery and development of diagnostic biomarkers for active TB.

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Haas, C. T., Roe, J. K., Pollara, G., Mehta, M., & Noursadeghi, M. (2016). Diagnostic “omics” for active tuberculosis. BMC Medicine. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-016-0583-9

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