The stain could also speed up tuberculosis drug-resistance tests
A new molecule that reveals active tuberculosis bacteria in coughed-up mucus and saliva could simplify TB diagnoses and speed up tests for detecting strains of the disease that are resistant to drugs.
This synthetic molecule is a modified version of a sugar that TB bacteria consume to help build their cell walls. The sugar is tagged with a dye that lights up under a fluorescent microscope — but only if the dye isn’t surrounded by water. Dubbed DMN-Tre, the hybrid molecule stays dark until it enters a fatty, water-repellant layer in a TB bacterium’s cell wall, where it starts to glow, researchers report online February 28 in Science Translational Medicine.
Standard tests use dyes that stain a bunch of different bacteria, so technicians have to bleach the dye off everything except the TB cells, says Sumona Datta, a tuberculosis researcher at Imperial College London