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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Gel-Based Biochip to Help Diagnose TB

MTA scientist showing off a gel-based biochip at Moscow's Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology on Thursday.
Scientists at Moscow's Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology unveiled for the public Thursday a new technology using gel-based biochips to help doctors better diagnose different strains of tuberculosis and other diseases.

The institute's discovery is likely to be particularly important in Russia, where tuberculosis remains a serious public health issue.

"We have a lot of international competitors working with biochips, but ours are the first in the world to have been certified by the Health and Social Development Ministry for medical use," said Dmitry Gryadunov, head of the of Pathogen Analysis group at the institute.

The patented process, in which fluids from the patient are placed on a biochip that is then analyzed directly by a computer, generates a series of fluorescent patterns from the sample that are used to determine the specific strain of an illness.

The tests can be used to determine whether the strand of tuberculosis a patient has is resistant to antibiotics and which antibiotics it is resistant to, allowing for doctors to better target the drugs prescribed, thus lowering costs. Gryadunov said the costs of the tests themselves would be about 600 rubles ($25).

The most recent statistics from the World Health Organization, in 2004, gave a rate of 83 cases of tuberculosis in Russia per 100,000 people, about double the rate in Europe.