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SeeTB: New diagnostic tool for detecting tuberculosis

Date: 17 November 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous


Researchers  have developed a small device called as SeeTB, that can be attached to a simple optical microscope to convert it into a fluorescence microscope, thus enabling better TB diagnosis at the point-of-care.



Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major healthcare burden for most developing countries, and India still leads the list with the largest number of cases. The World Health Organization has aimed at eliminating TB by 2035, and the Indian government has vouched to do this by 2025. 



  • The device is battery operated and allows quick identification of the bacteria. The team has also developed a clearing reagent called CLR which helps in thinning the collected sputum thus enhancing the bacteria detection. A patent has been filed for both the reagent and the device.

  • The currently used fluorescence microscopy requires infrastructure, an air-conditioned room, trained professionals and is functional only in tertiary health care centers. SeeTB can be used at the primary health care centres in the villages, and once diagnosed, the treatment can be started.

  • CLR-SeeTB is a highly economical platform and is most suited for a country like India which has a high TB burden.

  • The results during diagnosis showed that compared to fluorescence microscopy, the CLR-SeeTB system had higher sensitivity.

  • When the performance was compared against GeneXpert, another diagnosis tool that looks for DNA markers of TB bacteria, SeeTB showed improved sensitivity.

  • Also, while GeneXpert method takes about two hours, SeeTB can help find the bacteria in about 30 minutes.

  • The team used 3D printing to rapidly prototype this compact optical platform, and now are using injection moulding to produce these components in large scale. 

  • This can help drastically bring down the cost, thus making it feasible for large scale distributions across the country.



Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called  Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks.


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