A urine test has been proposed by scientists at the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in New Delhi to detect tuberculosis1.
The test eliminates the need for sputum or blood samples. The ICGEB team analyzed volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the urine and found that the levels of five VOCs in TB patients were significantly altered as compared with that of healthy patients.
They showed that the distinct pattern of these VOCs can be used to identify TB patients in much the same way as distinct fingerprint patterns can be used to identify individuals.
"This is a thorough and rigorous analysis of the VOC produced by TB patients in comparison with normal subjects," says M. S. Shaila, professor of virology at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
The new finding represents a potential biomarker for routine TB diagnosis as well as follow-up on treatment responsiveness, she says.
More rigorous examination of urine samples from many cities is needed to provide stronger validation to the findings, she adds.