Mycobacterium tuberculosis peptides can be used in rapid diagnostic test for asymptomatic TB

Technology Overview

Dr. Serge Barcy

Dr. Serge Barcy

In 2014 the World Health Organization estimated that the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic had already resulted in millions of deaths and was expanding at a rate of 9 million new cases a year. The vast majority of people infected with tuberculosis live in developing countries, and global efforts are underway to reduce the transmission of mycobacterium tuberculosis.

A critical component for the success of these measures is the ability to identify individuals with either active or latent TB infection. Active infection with TB can be detected by microscopy on sputum smears with high specificity, but can lack sensitivity in the context of HIV associated tuberculosis or in pediatric patients. Latent TB infection diagnosis is more challenging. The most widely used assays are the tuberculin skin test and the interferon gamma release assay. Both of these assays rely on the detection of a specific cellular immune response against TB. The interferon gamma release assay has the advantage of not being affected by previous vaccination with BCG (bacille Calmette-Guerin), but is more costly and generally considered less sensitive than the tuberculin skin test. The development of a rapid and accurate new diagnostic assay to identify TB infection is critically needed. An immune-based, low cost, rapid diagnostic test performed at the point of care would be particularly suitable, especially for developing countries.

Dr. Serge Barcy’s lab has recently discovered a peptide from a protein encoded by mycobacterium tuberculosis. This newly identified peptide is detectable in plasma samples from TB infected patients who do not have any clinical sign of tuberculosis and is enriched in exosomes circulating in plasma. The team has observed a serological response against the peptide in all infected patients (including those with HIV), but not in negative control samples. This discovery will allow the development of a serological assay or a rapid diagnostic test to identify TB infection based on the detection of antibodies against the newly identified peptide. This product would meet all requirements for a rapid and inexpensive diagnostic test, making it ideal for widespread screening. Dr. Barcy is interested in collaborating with a diagnostic company to move this discovery into manufacture and validation.

Stage of Development

  • Pre-clinical ex vivo

Partnering Opportunities

  • Licensing agreement
  • Collaborative research and development opportunity
  • Sponsored research agreement
  • Consultation agreement
  • Diagnostic validation
  • Tissue sample access

Learn More

To learn more about partnering with Seattle Children’s Research Institute on this or other projects, please contact:

Dr. Elizabeth Aylward, Director
Office of Science-Industry Partnerships
Seattle Children's Research Institute
818 Stewart St Suite 603, M/S 818-S 
Seattle, WA 98101