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Tuberculosis Testing

Prioritizing the detection of latent tuberculosis is critical to ending TB

With approximately 10.6 million people falling ill in 2022 alone, it is estimated that up to a quarter of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB).1 Tuberculosis (TB) claims the lives of 1.3 million people annually, making it one of the leading causes of death worldwide by a single infectious agent.1 To effectively combat TB, healthcare practitioners must not only treat patients with active disease but also identify and treat the hidden reservoir of TB known as latent TB infection. Latent TB screening involves identifying and testing individuals who may be at risk of contracting TB infection or progressing from latent TB to active TB. These high-risk groups include:

  • Individuals with weakened immune systems
  • Individuals who have a high risk of being exposed to TB due to their occupation
  • Individuals who work or live in settings with a high risk of TB transmission
  • Individuals who have had close contact with contagious cases of TB
  • Infants, children, and adolescents exposed to adults in high-risk groups

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  1. World Health Organization. Global Tuberculosis Report 2023. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2023.
  2. World Health Organization. Latent tuberculosis  infection: updated and consolidated guidelines for programmatic management. Geneva; 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO
  3. The World Health Organization. WHO operational handbook on tuberculosis: Module 3: Diagnosis - Tests for tuberculosis infection. Geneva. 2022.
  4. Oxford Immunotec. T-SPOT.TB Package Insert PI-TB-IVD-UK-v5. Abingdon, UK. November 2023.
  5. Lewinsohn DM, Leonard MK, LoBue PA, Cohn DL,Daley CL, et al. Official American Thoracic Society/Infectious Diseases Society of America/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Clinical Practice Guidelines: Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Adults and Children. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2017;64(2):111–115.​
  6. Wong SH, Gao Q, Kelvin KF et al. Effect of immunosuppressive therapy on interferon γ release assay for latent tuberculosis screening in patients with autoimmune diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis Thorax 2016;71:64–72.​
  7. King, TC, Upfa M, et al. T-SPOT.TB Interferon-γ Release Assay Performance in Healthcare Worker Screening at Nineteen U.S. Hospitals. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 192, No. 3 (2015), pp. 367-373. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201501 0199OC.
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Latent TB screening methods

There are two screening methods available to identify latent TB infection: Blood-based interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) and skin tests, including the tuberculin skin test (TST), and the TB antigen-based skin tests (TBSTs). 

There are two screening methods available to identify latent TB infection: Blood-based interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) and skin tests, including the tuberculin skin test (TST), and the TB antigen-based skin tests (TBSTs). 

Newer TBSTs are now more specific, eliminating cross-reactivity with the BCG vaccine. However, they still require multiple clinic visits and may produce unreliable results in immunosuppressed individuals. On the other hand, IGRAs offer several advantages over skin tests. They only require a single clinic visit, are unaffected by the BCG vaccine, and generally demonstrate high sensitivity and specificity. 

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WHO recommended test for latent TB in high-risk groups

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using IGRAs for latent TB testing in high-risk groups.2 However, not all IGRAs are created equal and the WHO has now acknowledged that isolating, washing and counting the cells used in IGRA testing can be beneficial, and these steps contribute to test reproducibility and performance.3

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using IGRAs for latent TB testing in high-risk groups.2 However, not all IGRAs are created equal and the WHO has now acknowledged that isolating, washing and counting the cells used in IGRA testing can be beneficial, and these steps contribute to test reproducibility and performance.3

The T-SPOT.TB test is a normalized, FDA approved and WHO recommended test that includes these critical steps.3,4

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Choose the right latent TB test for your patient

The T-SPOT.TB test is a unique IGRA that requires only one visit and one tube. Unlike other IGRAs, the T-SPOT.TB test is standardized for both cell number and culture conditions, making it one of the most sensitive and specific tests for TB infection. By standardizing the number of cells and eliminating serum factors that could potentially impact test results, it ensures accuracy and reliability.4,5 Physicians can quickly and reliably diagnose TB infection in all patient groups, including the immunosuppressed.4,6

The T-SPOT.TB test is a unique IGRA that requires only one visit and one tube. Unlike other IGRAs, the T-SPOT.TB test is standardized for both cell number and culture conditions, making it one of the most sensitive and specific tests for TB infection. By standardizing the number of cells and eliminating serum factors that could potentially impact test results, it ensures accuracy and reliability.4,5 Physicians can quickly and reliably diagnose TB infection in all patient groups, including the immunosuppressed.4,6

The T-SPOT.TB test design includes the isolation, washing, counting, and standardization of cells. This comprehensive approach:

  • reduces the risk of false or invalid test results6,7
  • maintains its clinical performance even in immunosuppressed individuals6,7
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UK's premier referral lab for the T-SPOT.TB test

Oxford Diagnostic Laboratories (ODL®) is a large referral lab in the UK specializing in TB testing using the T-SPOT technology. Located in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, our team of experienced laboratory professionals is dedicated to delivering the highest quality results and service.

Oxford Diagnostic Laboratories (ODL®) is a large referral lab in the UK specializing in TB testing using the T-SPOT technology. Located in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, our team of experienced laboratory professionals is dedicated to delivering the highest quality results and service.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Collect the blood specimen using a standard heparinized collection tube.
  • Send the specimen to Oxford Diagnostic Laboratories at ambient temperature.
  • Results will be provided within 48-72 hours from the time of sample receipt.
  • Electronic requesting and result reporting options are available.

For more information, please reach out to our Customer Experience team at customerexperience@oxfordimmunotec.com or call us at 01235 433164.

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Accelerate your TB testing with our automated solutions

In TB testing, why trade accuracy for efficiency when you don’t have to?

In TB testing, why trade accuracy for efficiency when you don’t have to?

The T-SPOT.TB test now features automated processes, resulting in improved workflow efficiency and reduced hands-on time. With customizable and scalable solutions for each step, you can choose the most cost-effective option that suits your specific needs.

Featured products:

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