The potential for Actiphage to be used as a mainstream diagnostic for human tuberculosis (TB) has been investigated in a study across the University Hospitals of Leicester (Leicester’s Hospitals) with promising results.
Traditional tests rely on sputum to detect the infection but almost half of all people with pulmonary TB are unable to produce sputum, particularly in early disease.
It also difficult to culture the mycobacteria for plate detection.
Actiphage provides a novel approach: it is able to detect the presence of live mycobacteria in a sample of blood.
It uses a bacteriophage – a virus specific to the mycobacteria that causes TB. The bacteriophage is able to penetrate the tough membrane of the bacteria and release DNA from live cells, which can then be identified.
The results from initial trials are very promising.