Qiagen and Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology (MPIIB) have partnered to develop a molecular diagnostic test to evaluate the risk of an individual with latent tuberculosis (TB) developing active TB during their lifetime.

The new molecular reflex assay, which is based on the QIAsymphony modular automation platform, will be designed to allow early treatment the latent TB reactivates.

The aim of the collaboration is to format the suitable biomarkers identified by the institute into a molecular assay that can detect susceptibility or resistance to active TB in individuals with latent TB.

Under the partnership deal, Qiagen will be responsible for assay design and manufacturing, while the MPIIB will offer access to its marker sets and will develop new biosignatures.

Qiagen vice-president James Rothel said that the assays are highly complementary to its QuantiFERON technology, and hopes that the combination of ‘pre-molecular’ and DNA/RNA-based molecular testing technologies will help in screening and identifying infected individuals before they develop active TB.

”The collaboration with the MPIIB underpins Qiagen’s strategy to further expand its portfolio with new innovative assay technologies for profiling diseases to make improvements in life possible," Rothel said.

The company’s pre-molecular technology identifies individuals at risk for life-threatening diseases by examining whole blood samples for the presence of systemically amplified molecular components, which provide information from the immune system’s memory.

MPIIB, Berlin Department of Immunology director Stefan Kaufmann said through the partnership they will gain access to important technologies and concomitantly strengthen the further development of their vaccine programme.

"Results from this research may accelerate clinical trials of TB vaccines. Identification of biomarkers that can predict risk of active TB disease in individuals with latent TB will also be able to predict protective efficacy of a vaccine candidate early in clinical trial," Kaufmann said.