Difference between revisions of "TB Breath Test Proposal"

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'''Details/Method:''' TBD!
'''Predicted Outcomes:''' TBD!
'''Predicted Outcomes:'''

Revision as of 19:17, 3 December 2013

20.109 WF Pink Team Research Proposal

TB Breath Test

Project Overview: Developing a novel biosensor device to diagnose tuberculosis infection quickly and efficiently. Our aim is to create an engineered bacterial system to detect unique volatile organic compounds in the breath of those infected with TB and produce a visible output within minutes.


Disease background

  • Tuberculosis is an infectious (potentially fatal) disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • 1/3 of world population is infected; in 2011 alone, 9 million new cases, and nearly 1.4 million TB-related deaths worldwide
  • TB usually affects the lungs, but can also affect brain, kidneys, spine
    • symptoms include coughing (blood), chest pain, weight loss, night sweats, fever, and chills
  • latent vs active infection
    • latent infection becomes active if immune system cannot repress bacteria's growth
    • 5-10% of latent cases will become active

2 widely used current tests:

  • Mantoux TB skin test injects a small amount of tuberculin into the skin
    • patient must return to clinic 48/72 hours later for evaluation of injection site
  • TB blood test (interferon-gamma release assay) measures immune system reaction to TB bacteria

Problem/Goals Statement:


  • current TB tests (TB skin test and blood test) are invasive
  • commonly used TB skin test requires a follow-up visit 48 to 72 hours after tuberculin injection - an inconvenience to both patients and doctors
  • large need for administering TB tests (please see high-risk characteristics)
  • false positives
  • we propose the creation of a better TB detection method that will address these shortcomings through biological engineering


  • to detect and concentrate the unique volatile organic compounds (VOC) released from Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the breath of infected patients
  • to engineer a biological system that amplifies the VOC signal, and quickly produces a visual output

Details/Method: TBD!

Predicted Outcomes: TBD!


Cambridge Pubic Health Department