KUALA LUMPUR, MARCH 23: A team of researchers from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has successfully created two innovations known as TB Strip and TB Reader for the purpose of screening and detecting tuberculosis or TB disease quickly and also user-friendly.
Both of these innovations act by detecting the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum or phlegm samples in an individual's body.
TB Reader takes about two hours to find out the test results, is more sensitive and able to detect the presence of TB bacteria even though the bacterial content is low while TB Strip takes only about 10 to 15 minutes to get results but the sensitivity level is lower than that of TB Reader.
Speed up screening process with lower cost offered
Describing the two innovations as added value to the early detection method of TB disease that is currently being used by the hospitals and laboratories involved, UPM research group leader Prof Dr Nor Azah Yusof said among the weaknesses of the existing standard method is that it takes a while before the results can be known.
"For example, the Mantoux test requires a minimum duration of 72 hours and a culture test usually takes a minimum of four weeks. Although the phlegm smear test or acid fast bacilli smear test (AFB) is the fastest, the most common issue is the relatively high false negative results.
"Therefore, this innovation of TB Strip and TB Reader can help speed up the tibi disease screening process before further and more detailed examination is carried out and the cost of both is much lower than other methods," she explained.
Nor Azah, who is also a lecturer at the Faculty of Science UPM said the innovation is in the process of clinical studies and needs to be approved by the Medical Device Authority (MDA) before it can be officially marketed.
The first phase clinical trials of TB Reader have achieved 70 percent efficiency compared to the existing standard method and after all related problems are identified, the second phase clinical trials will continue with a larger sample scale.
TB Reader started to develop 5 years ago with a collaboration with Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Kubang Kerian and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) together with Persatuan Pencegah Batuk Kering Sabah (SABATA) Penampang.
The new clinical trial of TB Strip began in August last year in stages but had to be postponed due to the second phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
The study was also initiated five years ago in collaboration with USM Kubang Kerian and the Respiratory Medical Institute of the Ministry of Health.
"As a group of researchers involved with biosensors, diagnostic methods in disease detection are among the most important scopes to help patients speed up the diagnosis process and get treatment at an early stage.
"This partnership must continue to be established between researchers, agencies under the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), other ministries involved such as the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) as well as the industry to enable innovation in the detection of TB diseases in the country to be implemented well and comprehensively," said Nor Azah.
She also added that, this innovation is currently undergoing the clinical trial and needs to get the approval from the authority on Peranti Perubatan (MDA) before it can be widely marketed.
The official website of the World Health Organisation (WHO) also states that 1.4 million people were recorded to have died from the infectious disease in 2019 and this number includes 208,000 people with HIV.
Meanwhile, Medical Lecturer of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences UPM Dr Ummi Nadira Daut said TB disease includes cases involving TB bacteria immune to the drug (multidrug resistance TB- (MDR-TB)) which shows an increase in cases every year.
MDR-TB is a condition in which people with TB experience resistance or immunity to two important drugs of TB which are isoniazid and rifampicin, and it is a more difficult condition that requires a long period of treatment and a higher cost than normal Tibi cases.
The situation, She said, demands the commitment of all government and private parties to provide early screening and treatment services to patients as the drug resistant issue has adverse implications for the lives and health of the community if not addressed appropriately.
"Education and prevention programs need to continue to be expanded by focusing fully on patients at high risk of MDR-TB.
"Every patient should be given counselling on medication and emphasis on adhering to treatment. Failure to comply with the prescribed treatment will increase the risk of MDR-TB and will make it difficult to heal thus increasing the complications of the disease.
"Society needs to be exposed to the dangers of MDR-TB and work together to curb the spread of the MDR-TB community that is currently happening in Malaysia," she further explained, who is also a Pulmonologist.
A total of 352 MDR-TB cases were reported in Malaysia in 2018 with an increase of 182 new cases compared to 170 treated in the previous year.
Ummi Nadira added that the MOH is constantly working to improve the various TB disease studies from the aspects of prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment to ensure that the National Tb Control program is always ahead and successfully achieves the target of zero TB by 2035.
"The facilities in every government hospital such as Gene Xpert are also being added to speed up the diagnosis of MDR-TB so that early treatment can be given to patients," he said.
Tibi Day is celebrated around the world on 24 March every year to commemorate the history of the discovery of the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis by Dr Robert Koch on 24 March 1882.
Also known as tuberculosis, the disease usually affects the lungs but other organs such as the brain, bones, glands, intestines and kidneys can also develop TB infection.
Date of Input: 24/12/2021 | Updated: 17/08/2022 | asrizam
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