A new project for the Mérieux Foundation in Bangladesh to facilitate the diagnosis of tuberculosis

The Mérieux Foundation and its partners were in Bangladesh to describe the protocol for the EBC-LAM study, whose main objective is to evaluate a diagnosis test for TB using air sampling.

Representatives from icddr,b, IPBS/CNRS and the Mérieux Foundation met in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to discuss the protocol and the launch of the EBC-LAM project. This study aims to evaluate a rapid and non-invasive breath test that can be carried out directly in local care facilities to provide TB screening in regions with limited resources.

This study is the result of a collaboration between the Mérieux Foundation and the team working under Dr Jérôme Nigou at the Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology (IPBS), the CNRS research center at the University of Toulouse. Preliminary work carried out on the identification of a large quantity of a TB marker (lipoarabinomannan or LAM) in exhaled air has been promising.

Unlike routine tests already in use, this new test relies on collecting exhaled breath condensate (EBC) instead of sputum, which is particularly difficult to collect from children. As well as being non-invasive and inexpensive, this test is also easy to carry out at the lowest levels of sanitation and can be used by staff with little or no training, who can then give the results to the patient during the consultation. Particularly suitable for low-income countries, this type of test fulfills the WHO’s requirements for the introduction of new diagnosis tests.

With this project, the Mérieux Foundation and its partners aim to confirm the potential of this innovation on a larger scale by validating its performance in a real-life situation. A clinical study for validating the concept has been designed and developed with the support of Dr Nigou, the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh (icddr,b), a member of the Mérieux Foundation’s GABRIEL research network, and FINDdx (affiliated with the WHO).