India in innovative SMaRT-PCR mask to detect TB in children

Did you ever think that a mask could detect TB one day?

By Catherine Murombedzi

eHealth Network of India has reported an innovative tool that is set to revolutionise tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis in children. TB diagnosis has been challenging in children as they can not produce sputum.

An innovative smart mask that can identify tuberculosis in youngsters has been introduced by an Indian team of scientists in a ground-breaking discovery.

This innovative project, spearheaded by the Foundation for Medical Research (FMR) in Worli, Mumbai, has garnered significant support from the Indian Council of Medical (ICMR) Research to conduct a comprehensive four-year study.

Project Leader at FMR, Dr. Ambreen Shaikh highlighted the difficulty in detecting pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) in children because the disease lacks conventional symptoms and getting accurate samples is hard.

Traditionally, invasive procedures such as gastric lavages have been necessary for confirmation, posing significant discomfort and inconvenience to the patients. The newly developed smart mask, dubbed SMaRT-PCR (Sampling with Mask and PCR), presents a non-invasive and child-friendly alternative.

Adorned with colorful cartoon figures, the mask allows children to comfortably wear it while going about their usual activities over a period of 10 minutes. The mask collects respiratory
aerosols containing TB bacilli through a gelatine cover placed on its interior.

Preliminary trials conducted at prominent Mumbai hospitals, including Wadia Hospital, JJ Hospital, and Dr. Vikas Oswal’s center, demonstrated promising results. Dr. Nerges Mistry, Director of FMR, highlighted
the mask’s impressive sensitivity of 75% and specificity of 95% in detecting TB paving the way for further refinement and expansion of its applications.

The development of an innovative SMaRT-PCR mask to detect TB in children is a game-changer. The challenges of diagnosing TB in children have long been a concern, and this breakthrough offers hope for a more effective and non-invasive solution.

The SMaRT-PCR mask has the potential to revolutionize TB diagnosis, making it easier and more accessible, especially in resource-constrained settings.

This innovation could lead to earlier detection and treatment of TB in children, ultimately saving lives and reducing the burden of this disease on families and communities.

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