Thursday January 18, 2018
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A new blood test developed to predict TB

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Image source- sites.bu.edu

Seattle: An international team of researchers has identified biological markers in the blood that can help doctors predict who is at high risk of developing active tuberculosis (TB).

One-third of the world’s population is thought to be infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, but just a small fraction ever develops symptomatic illness.

If validated through additional clinical trials, a test based on these blood biomarkers that the researchers have now identified would allow doctors to target therapies to at-risk people, thus preventing them from getting sick.

The decade-long research effort was led by investigators from the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative at the University of Cape Town, and the Center for Infectious Disease Research, Seattle, US.

The findings were published in the journal The Lancet.

The biomarkers were identified in two stages. First, researchers collected blood samples for two years from more than 6,000 Mtb-infected but otherwise healthy adolescent volunteers in South Africa.

Analysis of the samples revealed patterns of gene expression that differed between volunteers who eventually developed TB and those who remained healthy.

This risk “signature,” confined to a set of 16 genes, could be detected in a blood sample as early as 18 months before the infected person developed active TB.

Next, the team confirmed the genetic risk signature’s predictive ability in a study of more than 4,500 volunteers in South Africa and The Gambia.

The second study group was more varied in age, health status, ethnicity and exposure to locally common strains of Mtb than volunteers in the first study.

Despite the differences, the same risk signature found in the first study was detected in the people who eventually developed active TB during the second trial. (IANS)

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How sexual violence in neighbourhood affects your health

Researchers conducted interviews with nearly 350 adults in nine neighbourhoods in a major American city with high rates of poverty, unemployment and crime

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Sexual violence in neighborhood can affect the mental health of women. Pexels
Sexual violence in neighborhood can affect the mental health of women. Pexels
  • Sexual violence in the neighbourhood can harm your health.
  • Neighbourhood plays a vital role in human behaviour.
  • Men can be more aware of what makes women feel insecure.

A study finds sexual violence in the neighbourhood can harm the physical and mental health of women. Neighbourhoods play a key role in the behaviour and development of people, previous studies show and some conditions — such as crime, segregation, poverty and disorder — can have harmful effects on health.

Researchers conducted interviews with nearly 350 adults in nine neighbourhoods in a major American city with high rates of poverty, unemployment and crime.

“Feeling unsafe, especially in and around your home, can erode physical and mental health,” said Dana M. Prince, co-author of the study and assistant professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.

Researchers say men can be more aware of what makes women feel insecure. Pexels
Researchers say men can be more aware of what makes women feel insecure. Pexels

According to the researchers, feelings about the frequency of rape or other forms of sexual assault in a neighbourhood are significantly tied to women’s perceptions of its safety.

“Our results could mean men are less aware of sexual violence, or perhaps they do not feel comfortable reporting that it makes them feel less safe — perhaps both — while women tend to be socialised early on to be aware of the possibility of sexual attack,” Prince added.

Participants were asked how often particular crimes occurred in their neighbourhood in the past six months.

“Our results indicate that men can become more aware of how women feel about what contributes to and threaten their safety,” the researcher said.

The study was published in the Journal of Community Psychology. (IANS)

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A lesson in the woods may boost kids’ learning

Moreover, the number of times the teacher had to redirect a student's attention to their work was roughly halved immediately after an outdoor lesson.

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