Tuberculosis (TB) is a deadly disease caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. It is an airborne infection affecting the respiratory system, but can spread through the circulatory system and affect other parts of the body such as the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, bones, joints and the skin. Although a strong immune system can suppress the disease and cause it to be latent, this can be a sleeping giant. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, over 1/3 of the world's population has latent TB which, at some point in life, can overcome the host's immune system and become active. Generally those in susceptible age groups (young and old) and those with compromised immune systems (HIV) are the largest candidates for the illness. In 2009, the WHO estimated that globally, there were 9.4 million incidence cases, 14 million prevalent cases and 1.7 million deaths as a result of the disease.
Typically a developing country disease, TB is beginning to show resurgence in places like Norway and the United Kingdom. One notable trend that can accelerate the bridge back to the developed countries of the World is the rapid occurrence of Multi Drug Resistance (MDR) and Extensively Drug Resistant (XDR) strains of TB. The result of ineffective reduction of the disease is that there are now 22 countries worldwide that are categorized as High–Burden, where resistant strains and a high degree of incidence is rampant. Eighty percent of the TB cases are occurring in these regions.
There are several keys critical to eradicating TB
- The need for simple and standardized procedures for a consistent diagnostic process.
- The need for multiple, new, low-cost diagnostics focused on speed and accuracy.
- The need for initial drug-therapy, coinciding with the positive diagnostic visit.
- The need for educating the public on new approaches to resolving the epidemic.
No single therapy or diagnostic will resolve this pandemic. Diascopic, as a contributor to a modern–day solution, believes that more accurate, rapid and portable diagnostics – while being less expensive and requiring lower technical skill – are a combination that will have a considerable impact on the problem.