Tuberculosis diagnostics: overcoming ancient challenges with modern solutions

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Rapid, sensitive, accurate and portable diagnostics are a mainstay of modern medicine. Tuberculosis is a disease that has been with us since time immemorial and, despite the fact that it can be treated and cured, it still remains the world's biggest infectious killer, taking the lives of millions annually. There have been important developments in the diagnostic devices for tuberculosis however, these are often prone to error, expensive, lack the necessary sensitivity or accuracy and, crucially, not sufficiently portable and thus not applicable in the remote, rural areas, where they are most needed. Modern solutions have been emerging in the past decade, seeking to overcome many of the inhibiting issues in this field by utilising recent advances in molecular biology, genetics and sequencing or even completely 'reinventing the wheel', by developing novel and unprecedented diagnostic techniques. In this mini review, the issues and challenges arising from the historical methods of diagnosing tuberculosis are discussed, followed by outlaying their particular lack of appropriateness for regions of the world where tuberculosis still remains endemic. Subsequently, more recent developments of new methods and technological advancements as 'modern weapons' in the battle to defeat this disease and associated challenges are reviewed, and finally an outlook is presented, highlighting the future of the modern solutions under development, which are envisioned to lay the platform for improvements in delivering timely intervention, reduce immense expense and burden on healthcare systems worldwide, while saving millions of lives and eventually, may enable the eradication of this ancient disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-436
Number of pages14
JournalEmerging topics in life sciences
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • biochemical techniques and resources
  • diagnostics
  • tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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