Dr. Alessandra Luchini and Lance Liotta head an international team that has developed a nanotechnology-based urine test that could lead to early TB detection

Scientists at George Mason University have developed a nanotechnology that for the first time can measure a sugar molecule in urine that identifies tuberculosis with high sensitivity and specificity, setting the stage for a rapid, highly accurate and far less-invasive urine test of the disease that could potentially prove to be the difference between life and death in many underdeveloped parts of the world.

The international team led by George Mason’s Alessandra Luchini and Lance Liotta report in Science Translational Magazine that a sugar molecule called “LAM,” which comes from the surface of the tuberculosis bacteria, can be measured in the urine of all patients with active tuberculosis regardless of whether they have a simultaneous infection with another pathogen (e.g. HIV). The more severe the disease, the higher the sugar concentration in the urine, said Luchini, an associate professor in Mason’s College of Science.

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