Integrated nucleic acid testing system to enable TB diagnosis in peripheral settings†
To facilitate treatment and limit transmission of tuberculosis (TB), new methods are needed to enable rapid and affordable diagnosis of the disease in high-burden low-resource settings. We have developed a prototype integrated nucleic acid testing device to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) in sputum. The device consists of a disposable cartridge and compact, inexpensive instrument that automates pathogen lysis, nucleic acid extraction, isothermal DNA amplification and lateral flow detection. A liquefied and disinfected sputum sample is manually injected into the cartridge, and all other steps are automated, with a result provided in <1.5 h. Cell disruption and DNA extraction is executed within a four-port active valve containing a miniature bead blender (based on PureLyse® technology, Claremont BioSolutions LLC). The DNA-containing eluate is combined with dry master-mix reagents and target DNA is isothermally amplified. Amplified master-mix is then pumped into a lateral flow strip chamber for detection. The entire process is performed in a single-use closed-system cartridge to prevent amplicon carryover. For testing of M.tb–spiked sputum the system provided a limit of detection of 5 × 103 colony forming units (CFU) per mL. None of the negative sputum-only controls yielded a false-positive result. Testing of 45 clinical sputum specimens from TB cases and controls relative to a validated manual qPCR-based comparator method revealed a preliminary sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 96%. With further development, the herein described integrated nucleic acid testing device can enable TB diagnosis and treatment initiation in the same clinical encounter in near-patient low-resource settings of high TB burden countries.