This project involved identifying and validating specific biomarkers for sensitive diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB). The MTP gene is very important in stabilising bacterial structure, allowing it to persist in the human body. MTP interacts with antibodies in the serum of TB positive patients, it then activates a cascade of genes which induces a severe response by the host immune system. A synthetic MTP peptide has been found to detect anti-MTP antibodies in TB patients – indicating an active infection. This project will be extrapolated to a larger patient cohort. An interesting area of this study is that the synthetic MTP peptide is highly sensitive and specific to anti-MTP antibodies – as such it could be used to accurately diagnose TB as opposed to other respiratory diseases. It could be used to determine an active or latent TB infection, as well as whether an infection is in fact active TB or a different respiratory disease, thus ensuring true positive diagnoses.
Patients of varying age, gender and geographic location have been recruited to the study – ensuring the testing of the peptide across different populations. Patients of varying TB and HIV status were included in the study to ascertain whether the synthetic peptide can discriminate between active and latent TB infections, as well as whether it can detect anti-MTP antibodies in patients with HIV-TB co-infection. The study was carried out using enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) to validate whether the synthetic peptide can detect anti-MTP antibodies.