Tuberculosis diagnostics and biomarkers: needs, challenges, recent advances, and opportunities

Ruth McNerney, Markus Maeurer, Ibrahim Abubakar, Ben Marais, Timothy D. Mchugh, Nathan Ford, Karin Weyer, Steve Lawn, Martin P. Grobusch, Ziad Memish, S. Bertel Squire, Giuseppe Pantaleo, Jeremiah Chakaya, Martina Casenghi, Giovanni-Batista Migliori, Peter Mwaba, Lynn Zijenah, Michael Hoelscher, Helen Cox, Soumya SwaminathanPeter S. Kim, Marco Schito, Alexandre Harari, Matthew Bates, Samana Schwank, Justin O'Grady, Michel Pletschette, Lucica Ditui, Rifat Atun, Alimuddin Zumla

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


Tuberculosis is unique among the major infectious diseases in that it lacks accurate rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests. Failure to control the spread of tuberculosis is largely due to our inability to detect and treat all infectious cases of pulmonary tuberculosis in a timely fashion, allowing continued Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission within communities. Currently recommended gold-standard diagnostic tests for tuberculosis are laboratory based, and multiple investigations may be necessary over a period of weeks or months before a diagnosis is made. Several new diagnostic tests have recently become available for detecting active tuberculosis disease, screening for latent M. tuberculosis infection, and identifying drug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis. However, progress toward a robust point-of-care test has been limited, and novel biomarker discovery remains challenging. In the absence of effective prevention strategies, high rates of early case detection and subsequent cure are required for global tuberculosis control. Early case detection is dependent on test accuracy, accessibility, cost, and complexity, but also depends on the political will and funder investment to deliver optimal, sustainable care to those worst affected by the tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus epidemics. This review highlights unanswered questions, challenges, recent advances, unresolved operational and technical issues, needs, and opportunities related to tuberculosis diagnostics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S147-S158
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue numbersuppl 2
Early online date20 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this