New technology, ELISA, displayed faster and easier detection of active TB

March 25, 2023 | Microbiology Lab

A new technology developed by Wayne State University was found to quickly and easily detect active Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) infection antibodies. Contrary to the gold standard tests available to determine infection of active TB via sputum smear and culture tests, the novel non-sputum-based technology is highly specific and sensitive to differentiate active TB from latent tuberculous infection (LTBI) which is considered a reservoir for TB bacteria and is subject to progress into active TB.


The team was led by Lobelia Samavati, MD, and professor at the university’s School of Medicine Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics. Their technology called the TKT peptide ELISA test is capable of quantifying levels of serum antibody (IgG) in serum samples of the Transketolase (TKTµ) enzyme of TB bacteria that are essentially required for the intracellular growth of the TB bacteria in a host. Samavati’s study believed that the abundance of IgG in sera against the identified novel neoantigen TKTµ may differentiate between active TB, LTBI, and other non-TB granulomatous lung diseases such as sarcoidosis.

The TKT peptide ELISA has been standardized via testing on 292 subjects and results showed that TB patients have significantly higher levels of TKT-specific antibodies compared to patients who were healthy controls and with LTBI. 

Such increases in the levels of TKT-specific antibodies were found to presumably associate with growing M.tb bacteria in active TB patients. Moreover, TKT was found to significant play a role in the switch from dormancy to the proliferative phase, and TKT-specific IgG may uncover the differences between active TB and LTBI. Thus, IgG-based serodiagnosis of TB with TKT-peptide ELISA is promising.


 The team is currently seeking a patent application for its technology and is vying for companies interested in investing in the project. When the technology comes to full development, it is anticipated to create a rapid non-sputum-based test that could cater to faster, highly sensitive, and effective detection tools for active TB.

Globally, tuberculosis continues to be a large health threat generating 10 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths annually. World Health Organization (WHO) reports that TB is the 13th leading cause of death in the world and is the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19.

TKT peptide ELISA is hopeful to further advance diagnostic tools for active TB and forward innovations in rapid molecular techniques for TB diagnostics.

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