June 8, 2012

Rapid Tuberculosis Test

The driving force behind the rapid tuberculosis test that received World Health Organization endorsement is Dr. David Alland, Director of the Center for Emerging & Re-Emerging Pathogens at the New Jersey Medical School. The test uses DNA technology to diagnose tuberculosis in less than two hours...a huge reduction in time-to-results compared to conventional TB diagnosis. Dr. Alland received grant support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The testing technology that it replaces, which is 125 years old, is far less reliable and requires three months to produce a diagnosis. The quicker and more accurate diagnoses produced by Dr. Alland's test will allow healthcare providers to begin tuberculosis treatment far sooner, sharply reducing the risk that infected individuals will spread the disease to others. It also will lead to more effective treatment of individual patients by telling clinicians whether disease-causing bacteria are drug-resistant.

Dr. Alland began work on the screening test, which is called Xpert MTB/RIF (Mycobacterium tuberculosis/resistance to rifampin), more than a decade ago. The test took four years to develop, followed by the process of attracting funding to refine and manufacture it and then conducting the clinical trials that established its effectiveness. Financial support has come from the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Alland's collaborators have been Cepheid, Inc., and FIND, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics.

WHO's endorsement of the test has been applauded by public health agencies including the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is proud to be the home of Dr. Alland's research, and congratulates him for his achievement.

This page last reviewed on May 1, 2015