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African ‘sniffer’ rats used to develop TB test

Thursday 20 March 2008

African ‘sniffer’ rats used to develop TB breath test

Health researchers from the University of Otago Christchurch are developing a unique breath test for tuberculosis (TB) – a disease that continues to kill more than two million people every year world-wide and is again becoming more prevalent in developed countries like New Zealand.

Monday 24 March is World TB Day, to draw attention to this serious international health problem.

Scientists from the Department of Pathology are about to visit Tanzania to progress investigation into a novel method of diagnosing TB using a type of large African “sniffer” rat, the Giant Gambian rat.

In a recent study, published in the international journal ‘Tuberculosis’, the researchers describe the discovery of a number of volatile bio-markers, which could be used to identify TB much more quickly using a breath test, rather than current laboratory-based tests.


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