Publication of TANDEM partners in The Lancet

April 07, 2016

Alongside with other colleagues, TANDEM partners Gerhard Walzl, Stefan Kaufmann, Tom Ottenhoff and Hazel Dockrell  published a paper on TB blood biomarkers in The Lancet on March, 23rd 2016 with the title: "A Blood RNA Signature for Tuberculosis Disease Risk: A Prospective Cohort Study".

The authors tested the sensitivity and validity of a whole blood tuberculosis risk signature in a prospective cohort study. Over 10,000 participants were enrolled for blood samples. The signature risk was derived from RNA sequencing data by comparing individuals who progressed to develop clinical TB disease with those who remained healthy. After adaption to multiplex quanititative real-time PCR, the signature was used to predict risk of developing tuberculosis disease in independent samples.

All in all, using 46 progressors and  107 matched controls, a 16 gene signature of risk could be identified. The signature predicted TB progression with a sensitivity of 66,1% and a specifity of 80,6%. Several validity test were run for the signatures, with p values ranging from 0.0095-0.0001 and with a sensitivity of 53,7% and a specificity of 82,9% in the independent cohorts.

Thus, the whole blood tuberculosis risk signature is a helpful diagnostic tool to prospectively identify individuals at risk of developing active TB. Timely interventions can be a powerful prevention strategy.

TANDEM Coordinator Prof. Hazel Dockrell says: "Although a lot more work is needed to develop a point of care test to predict development of TB, these findings are very promising, and it would help reduce transmission of TB if individuals developing disease could be identified early. Such a signature could also be used to stratify individuals and reduce the size of TB vaccine trials. Of course, for TANDEM, we would like to know whether diabetes will alter this RNA signature."

Find the article here.