Research ArticleTuberculosis

Rapid detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum with a solvatochromic trehalose probe

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Science Translational Medicine  28 Feb 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 430, eaam6310
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aam6310

A trehalose tool for tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading infectious killer worldwide. The prevalence of drug- and multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis necessitates more rapid and specific diagnostics. Kamariza et al. designed a color-changing dye based on trehalose, a sugar that makes up the outer membrane of M. tuberculosis. The dye stained live bacteria within minutes, emitting fluorescence upon incorporation into the hydrophobic mycobacterial membrane. Heat-inactivated bacteria did not fluoresce, and drug-treated bacteria emitted reduced fluorescence. Fluorescence intensity was similar between trehalose analog– and Auramine O–stained human sputum samples from patients with TB. This trehalose-based dye does not require sample washing and emits minimal background fluorescence, which could make it particularly useful for the rapid detection of metabolically active M. tuberculosis in resource-limited environments.

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