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Trends Mol Med. 2007 May;13(5):175-82. Epub 2007 Apr 5.

The prognosis of latent tuberculosis: can disease be predicted?

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Statens Serum Institut, Department of Infectious Disease Immunology, Artillerivej 5, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark.


In humans, Mycobacterium tuberculosis persists for long periods in a clinically latent state, creating a huge reservoir of 'silent' tuberculosis (TB) (roughly one-third of the global population) from which new cases continually arise. A prognostic marker for active TB would enable targeted treatment of the small fraction of infected individuals who are most at risk of developing contagious TB, contributing greatly to TB control efforts. Here, we propose that TB-specific interferon-gamma release assays might be useful for identifying individuals with progressive infections who are likely to develop the disease. This might provide an unprecedented advantage for TB control, namely targeted preventive therapy for individuals who are most at risk of developing active contagious TB.

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