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United Kingdom–East and Southern Africa partnership at the forefront of developing first ever test that measures patient tuberculosis burden in hours

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Wilber Sabiiti, MBLA development stakeholders

School/Research organisations


Mycobacterium tuberculosis has caused tuberculosis (TB) in humans for at least 3 millennia, but the disease has evaded eradication efforts by all human civilisations despite promising technological advancements. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target of ending the TB epidemic by 2035. Going by the current rate of progress, it is estimated that it will take another 160 years to realise the WHO End TB Strategy’s target. Accelerating the eradication of TB will require effective tools for diagnosis, vaccines and medicines to treat the disease, and efficient implementation thereof. This presents a great opportunity for innovators in East Africa and the world over to chip in and develop the best technologies to end TB. With funding from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), partnerships between the UK-based University of St Andrews and research institutions in East and Southern Africa have led to the development of the first ever test – the molecular bacterial load assay (MBLA) – that measures the number of TB bacteria in a patient and reveals if this number is declining as a patient progresses on treatment. Initial assay results are available within 4 hours. Real-time knowledge of patient mycobacterial burden and the effectiveness of prescribed medications are crucial for timely clinical decisions on patient management.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-8
Number of pages6
JournalEast Africa Science
Issue number1
Early online date24 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • Tuberculosis, Molecular bacterial load assay, Treatment monitoring, Partnership to accelerate innovation

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    Sabiiti, W., Mtafya, B. A., Alferes De Lima, D., Dombay, E., Baron, V. O., Azam, K., Orascova, K., Sloan, D. J. & Gillespie, S. H., 6 Sep 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Visualized Experiments.

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  5. OMNIgene.SPUTUM suppresses contaminants whilst maintaining Mycobacterium tuberculosis viability and obviates cold-chain transport

    Azam, K., Cadir, N., Madeira, C., Gillespie, S. H. & Sabiiti, W., 16 Feb 2018, In : ERJ Open Research. 4, 8 p., 00074-2017.

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ID: 257743749