WHO announces new TB antigen-based skin tests

April 6, 2022

Tuberculosis antigen-based skin tests (TBST), a new class of tests to diagnose TB infection, have been evaluated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and are found to be accurate, acceptable, feasible and cost-effective, according to a news release.

These tests represent an alternative to tuberculin skin test (TST) and Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs).

WHO estimates that over a quarter of the world’s population has TB infection. Testing for TB infection increases the probability that individuals at higher risk benefit from preventive treatment. TBST use Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex specific antigens and represent a significant advancement to TST which has been used for over half a century.

A Guideline Development Group was convened by WHO from 31 January to 3 February 2022 to discuss the findings of the systematic reviews and to make recommendations on the TBST class of diagnostic tests for TB infection. Three products were included in the evaluation and details are available in the Rapid Communication.

The Rapid Communication is released in advance of updated WHO guidelines expected later in 2022, to inform national TB programs and other stakeholders about these new developments and to allow for rapid transition and planning at the country level.

The publication is online on the WHO website.

“The diagnostic options for people with TB infection are increasing thanks to manufacturer engagement and research generating new evidence. Ensuring that everyone in need can obtain a rapid and accurate diagnosis of TB infection will save lives and reduce suffering” said Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Program.

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