MHF TOP PICKS FOR OCTOBER
Every month, we at the Mueller Health Foundation like to showcase interesting news and updates in the field of tuberculosis. Below are our top 3 picks for October:
- New Saliva Testing Method Could Make Tuberculosis Diagnosis Easier
In a recent study, researchers at Yale University examined the accuracy of a next-generation molecular testing cartridge called GeneXpert MTB/RIF Ultra (Xpert Ultra), made by the Sunnyvale, California-based company Cepheid to better understand its accuracy in detecting tuberculosis bacteria in saliva samples, as opposed to the commonly used sputum sample. The research team recruited clinic patients who were already known to have tuberculosis. Per routine, each participant first coughed up a sputum sample, with which the researchers confirmed infection by both culturing it and cartridge testing. Then, each participant provided saliva, which the team loaded into another Xpert Ultra cartridge. The results were encouraging: Among 78 people with culture-confirmed TB, the cartridges picked up 70 cases using saliva, which works out to 90% sensitivity. Among people living with HIV, the test did less well, picking up just under three-fourths of known tuberculosis cases. The study was intentionally small to get an idea of whether the method works and additional research is needed in the future. Additionally, the researchers have not yet tried testing children’s saliva, nor that of people with non-productive cough – both groups that could benefit from saliva testing. To learn more about the research, you can access the full article at: https://ysph.yale.edu/news-article/new-testing-method-could-make-tuberculosis-diagnosis-easier/
- New Tuberculosis Vaccine Research in Australia Focuses on Adjuvants and Antigens
The Centenary Institute and University of Sydney as well as several international research teams were awarded $19 million to develop and bring a vaccine to the point of human trials. The only current vaccine, known as the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, is more than 100 years old and its effectiveness had waned.
DID YOU KNOW?
The disease tuberculosis (TB) has been known by many different names throughout history. Below are a few examples of the most common names associated with the disease:
- Phthisis: The ancient Greeks described TB and called it phthisis or consumption. Around 460 BCE Hippocrates identified phthisis as the most widespread disease of his age. Phthisis is a Greek word which means to waste away, decline, decay, atrophy or literally wasting of the body.
- Scrofula and King’s Evil: In the Middle Ages there was evidence of tuberculosis of the cervical lymph nodes of the neck. As a result TB was sometimes referred to as scrofula.In the year 496 there was the start of the initiation of the royal touch for scrofula. This was started by Clovis of France. TB was called the “Kings Evil” and it was widely believed that the kings of England and France could cure scrofula simply by touching affected people.
- The Captain of all these Men of Death: This was the name given by John Bunyan to tuberculosis. He was a British clergyman and prolific writer in the 1600s.
- The White Plague: Tuberculosis became epidemic in Europe in the 17th, 18th, & 19th centuries. As the disease swept across Europe, it was called the White Plague of Europe. This probably referred to the pallor associated with people with TB.
- Consumption: This was the common lay term for TB in the early nineteenth century. It was probably the most common killer of American colonial adults at this time.
- Tuberculosis: In 1839 J.L. Schonlein suggested that the word “tuberculosis” be used as a generic term for all the manifestations of phthisis, since the tubercle was the anatomical basis of the disease.