A face mask tested by the NHS can diagnose tuberculosis early.
Designed with the help of British scientists, the gadget can detect pathogenic bacteria that are expelled through the mouth of a suspect patient after having worn them for only half an hour.
Researchers say that ‘world-changing’ technology can save millions of lives each year by making a rapid diagnosis.
In a study in tuberculosis patients (TB), the mask correctly identified the life-threatening disease 86 percent of the time.
This compares with 20 percent of a typical diagnostic device where a sample of mucus is taken from the lungs, which is not always reliable.
The mask is now being tested at an NHS TB service in Leicester and is expected to save thousands of pounds if rolled out nationwide.
TB is one of the ten leading causes of death worldwide and kills 1.5 million in 2018 in total. In the UK, 6,000 become ill with TB every year.
A face mask tested by the NHS can diagnose tuberculosis early. Designed with the help of British scientists, the gadget contains strips of polyvinyl alcohol (arrows) that collect disease bacteria that are expelled through the mouth of a suspicious patient after having worn them for only half an hour
The researchers from the University of Leicester and the University of Pretoria designed 3D printed strips of polyvinyl alcohol that were inserted into the mask.
The strips can reliably record the causes of tuberculosis when a person with symptoms is breathing, coughing or talking.
After 30 minutes the strips can be tested in a laboratory with results that come back within half a day.
Tuberculosis diagnostic tests may include a blood test, chest X-ray, and in some cases, bronchoscopy.
Many countries still rely on a long-used method called sputum lubrication microscopy, when slime samples from the lungs are analyzed under a microscope.
But microscopy only detects half the number of cases of tuberculosis and cannot detect resistant tuberculosis, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
Because TB often takes a while to develop, a person with symptoms may have had the infection in his body for weeks and spread to others before a test picks it up.
Professor Mike Barer of the University of Leicester said: ‘This is the first time that exhalation by future patients with tuberculosis can be taken so quickly and easily.
The researchers from the University of Leicester and the University of Pretoria designed 3D-printed strips of polyvinyl alcohol that are inserted into the mask (photo)
After 30 minutes the strips can be tested in a laboratory (photo)
HOW TO TABERCULOSE DURING DIAGNOSIS
Common symptoms of active lung TB include coughing with sputum and blood sometimes, chest pain, weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats.
Many countries still rely on a long-used method called sputum smear microscopy to diagnose tuberculosis.
Trained lab technicians look under a microscope for samples of sputum – mucus from the lungs – to see if there are TB bacteria present. Microscopy only detects half the number of TB cases and cannot detect drug resistance.
An X-ray can be used to look at changes in appearance that suggest lung tumor, which affects the lungs.
TB outside the lungs can be picked up with scans such as CT and MRI, a urine or blood test or biopsy. A patient may also undergo a lumbar puncture when fluid is removed from the spine with a needle.
The use of the Xpert MTB / RIF® rapid test. looking at DNA has expanded considerably since 2010, when the WHO first recommended use.
The test simultaneously detects TB and resistance to rifampicin, the most important TB drug.
The diagnosis can be made within two hours and is recommended as a first-line diagnostic tool for anyone with tuberculosis symptoms.
Tests for latent tuberculosis, that is, when a person is infected with tuberculosis but shows no symptoms, can receive the Mantoux test, where a small amount of a substance is injected into the skin of the skin and it is checked whether the tuberculosis responds to it , cause a lump.
“This groundbreaking research offers the possibility of saving thousands of lives around the world every year through early detection of a treatable disease – it is changing worldwide.
“The fact that the mask is a cheap and more accurate option for detecting live tuberculosis before it appears in sputum has huge implications for early detection of the disease and patients who have earlier access to treatment.
“We are very excited about how we can take this further and influence the spread of infections in the air.”
It costs the NHS £ 1.8 million a year to test for adult tuberculosis, according to data from the National Institute of Care and Excellence.
For comparison, the inserts of the mask cost around £ 2 to print, potentially saving thousands of pounds for the NHS.
The mask is being tested by NHS TB services in Leicester and will be introduced in two other hospitals within six months, The times reports.
Promising results from a separate study were published yesterday in The Lancet. The teams initially 24 people with confirmed tuberculosis over a 24-hour period.
Looking at bacteria in the signs, they discovered that infectious tuberculosis was exhaled and spread when patients were asleep.
This “breakthrough” in the understanding of the disease suggests that a cough may not be necessary to spread the infection.
The findings show that 86.5 percent of patients test positive for TB by using the mask, and only 20.5 percent of sputum – mucus from the lungs.
In addition, a further study of 20 patients with tuberculosis, four patients with negative sputum tested positive with the mask, and the presence of tuberculosis was not detected in their sputum until six weeks later.
The study showed that the mask is more consistent in detecting tuberculosis and could provide earlier diagnoses.
It could reduce the spread to others, because it could detect TB faster and could mean the end of invasive procedures.
Professor Barer continued: “The mask insert can save millions of lives worldwide, is easily accessible and cost-effective to produce.”
The World Health Organization wants the number of new cases of tuberculosis to be reduced by 90 percent each year and the number of deaths by 95 percent in 2035.
An estimated 10 million new TB cases and 1.5 million deaths were attributed to the deadly disease around the world in 2018.
Eight countries account for two-thirds of the total number of cases, with India in the lead, followed by China.
There were an estimated 10 million new cases of tuberculosis and 1.5 million deaths attributed to tuberculosis in 2018. Some have multi-resistant tuberculosis (MDR), which is when the bacteria do not respond to the most powerful drugs. Most cases of tuberculosis are in India
WHAT IS TUBERCULOSE AND IS IT A COMEBACK IN BRITTANNIA?
Tuberculosis (tuberculosis) is a bacterial infection that is spread between people by coughing and sneezing.
The infection usually affects the lungs, but the bacteria can cause problems in every part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones, and nervous system.
At the beginning of the 19th century, TB killed at least one in seven people in England. But today – thanks to improvements in health, faster diagnoses and effective antibiotics – less than six percent of people with tuberculosis are killed by the disease, with just under 4,672 cases reported in the UK in 2018.
Despite these improvements, a report on TB in London and Great Britain as a whole in 2010 showed that the number of cases in the capital had increased by almost 50 percent compared to 1999.
Professor Alimuddin Zumla of University College London attributed the turnout to people living under ‘Victorian’ conditions, with poor housing, inadequate ventilation and overcrowding in certain deprived parts of London.
He also said that the increase in TB cases was mainly due to people born outside the UK, but who appear to be infected in the UK, rather than in their country of origin.
The infection usually affects the lungs, but the bacteria can cause problems in every part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones, and nervous system
TB infection causes symptoms such as fever, cough, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue and tiredness, loss of appetite and swelling in the neck.
If the immune system does not contain TB bacteria, it can take weeks or months for the infection to persist and cause symptoms, and if left untreated, it can be fatal.
TB is most prevalent in less developed countries in Sub-Saharan and West Africa, Southeast Asia, Russia, China and South America.
Researchers in Wales said that of those infected with this disease in 2017, 55 percent were born outside the UK.
Although, 20 percent had at least one of the following social risk factors:
- Being in jail
- IV drug use
- Poor housing or homelessness