Distinct diagnostic for TB

Both diagnosis and prevention of tuberculosis might be improved by the discovery of a protein secreted by tuberculosis bacteria. The protein secreted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis could become both marker of infection and target for a vaccine. The protein, EspC, triggers a much stronger immune response in people infected with the M. tuberculosis than any other molecule known, but is not present in the BCG vaccine commonly used to prevent TB. The new protein could be used in next-generation immune cell-based blood tests for TB, so-called interferon- gamma release assays. The fact that it is not released by the BCG vaccine also means that a diagnostic based on EspC could be highly sensitive and readily discriminate between BCG-vaccination and actual TB infection.