Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Local TB test kit cheaper, results within 3 hours

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: A new test kit developed by Malaysia will enable anyone to know if he suffers from tuberculosis within three hours. By contrast, the conventional test takes almost a month.
The "EZTBPCR" kit will also reveal the exact strain of bacteria involved through testing clinical samples such as sputum, gastric lavage, cerebrospinal fluid and other body fluids.
Malaysian Bio-Diagnostic Research Sdn Bhd (MBDr) chief executive officer Emeri Johari said: "This method will cut down on time as well as allow the commencement of treatment of patients promptly."
MBDr, developer of the test kit and one of the foremost developers of medical diagnostic products in the country, is located at the UKM-MTDC Smart Technology Centre in Bangi.
Tuberculosis, which is on the rise, is the number one killer among infectious diseases in the country. TB claims an average of three lives daily, with a total 1,200 deaths recorded last year. About 15,000 cases of TB are diagnosed annually in Malaysia.
In 2004, 15,307 cases were diagnosed, of which 8,000 were sputum smear positive (a condition where the person can pass on the infection).
The "EZTBPCR" kit, fine-tuned and developed by the firm’s chief scientific officer Dr Patricia Lim, senior scientist Dr Chan Giek Far and medical microbiology and molecular biologist Dr Mohd Zaki Salleh, is simple to use because minimal technical skill is required to perform the test.
Universiti Sains Malaysia dean of the School of Health Sciences Professor Zainul Fadziruddin Zainuddin’s extensive research on the subject led to the development of the test kit.
Emeri said it would be about 30 per cent cheaper to use the kit than the conventional procedure, which costs between RM60 and RM70 per test.
Dr Mohd Zaki said an evaluation of the kit was being conducted in Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and the Philippines, while local evaluation was being done by the Institute for Medical Research.
The kit is to be launched on Aug 11 by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis.

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