Life-saving technology one step closer with work from Chemists at Bangor University

A recently published paper outlines the results of a Welsh Government funded research project that takes the world a step closer to swift and easy diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB). 

TB is one of the world's deadliest diseases. Just two years ago, 10.4 million people around the world became sick with TB and there were 1.8 million TB-related deaths worldwide.  In 2015, 35% of HIV deaths were due to co-infection with TB.

Chemists at Bangor University have been working to develop quick and easy to use diagnosis kits that can be used to give an instant result (currently blood samples from the patient have to be sent to a laboratory, which takes far too long). 

They have been creating a set of unique molecules that are used to provide a ‘fingerprint’ for the presence of TB in a blood sample.  The paper highlights a new approach to the fast diagnosis of TB, possibly a lifesaving scientific development. 

Dr Juma’a Al-Dulayymi, who is leading the synthetic chemistry said: 

“These results suggest a real opportunity for our core chemistry to contribute to the rapid detection of tuberculosis. Seeing the potential to save lives makes all the work we have done in making the molecules worthwhile”

Dr Chris Gwenin who is leading the diagnostic project said: 

This project is a great start, the next step is to test this novel technique with a wider range of samples; we are working hard to help bring a rapid and reliable TB test to market.”

There is a lot of complex science behind any test kit as it has to be proven and robust – pregnancy test kits took years to become something that could be used at home.

In order to develop the TB diagnostic technology to a point where it can be validated for use in the field, Bangor University has formed a spin out” company, Diagnostig.  Company Director Prof. Mark Baird said: 

“This new method and technology has exciting potential for both human and animal health.”

Bangor University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research Jo Rycroft Malone said: 

“This work is a great example of the world leading science being conducted at Bangor University. Diagnostig’s achievements highlight our ambition to create more spin out companies in partnership with M-SParc, the new science park on Anglesey. Science and innovation such shows how we contribute to the economic growth of North Wales." 

Details on the paper published in the Scientific Journal PLOS: 

“New synthetic lipid antigens for rapid serological diagnosis of tuberculosis”

Publication date: 18 August 2017