College of Science & Engineering

University of Edinburgh Leads the Way on TB Diagnostic Technologies

ARREST project receives €4.5M of funding.

The University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry is leading the way on a paradigm changing, multilateral €4.5M project funded by the EU Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020, the Indian Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

ARREST-TB (Accurate, Rapid, Robust and Economical diagnoStic Technologies for Tuberculosis) is co-ordinated and led by the University of Edinburgh, School of Chemistry and will focus on the development of affordable diagnostic technologies for Tuberculosis (TB).

The project involves a consortium of European academics from the UK (University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University), Italy (University of Padova), and SMEs (DestiNA Genomica and Genetic Analysis Strategies based in Spain and Optoi in Italy). It will develop a suite of TB diagnostics solutions, working closely with, and conducting clinical evaluation/validation studies in high TB burden countries including Russia and India, working with Central Tuberculosis Research Institute, Moscow, National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis, Chennai and Shanmukha Innovations, in India. The project will bring together routine users of current TB diagnostics with clinicians, biologists, chemists, physicists and engineers with the skills to design, build and integrate new tools and technologies.

The team will utilises a revolutionary DNA profiling technology and “no wash” optical labelling of patient sputum, with a focus on deployment in primary care and low resource settings. It will address the key needs of patients, clinicians and the World Health Organisations stated deliverables of affordable, reliable point-of-care TB diagnostics. The vision is to remove the need for centralised facilities and offering remote primary care diagnosis coupled with telemetry for cloud based notification ensuring public health and surveillance interventions.

The core technology deliverables will include:

  • Rapid screening of TB infection
  • Rapid molecular profiling of drug resistance
  • Biomarkers for early diagnosis and assessing treatment response

These tests will allow rapid detection of TB/Multi-drug resistant-TB with the use of a mobile app to interpret results, log details of the location, as well as transmitting the data to the cloud for collation and reporting. A key goal is to help reduce under-reporting of TB cases, track treatment outcomes as well as identifying TB hot spots, thereby assisting in the determination of clusters of transmission to target public health interventions.

Professor Mark Bradley from the University of Edinburgh is world-renowned for his work in the area of Chemical Medicine, specially the optical detection of bacteria and translational research and provides the Scientific Leadership and global mentorship of the project.

Dr Seshasailam Venkateswaran who leads the project from the University of Edinburgh, School of Chemistry, is its global coordinator and architect of the world-wide consortium, said:

‘TB is a major public health threat globally and is the leading cause of deaths from infectious diseases. With an estimated 10.4 million new cases every year, prompt and precise diagnosis coupled with contact tracing is critical for timely and accurate treatment of TB and limiting its propagation. Transnational partnerships with the pooling of resources, knowledge and experience is vital to tackle this public health emergency.’


Hence ARREST-TB involves five countries, including two high-TB burden countries, India and Russia adding huge value to the project. ARREST-TB will develop technologies that are economically viable in the context of resource poor settings with the whole project driven by practical need and local resourcing constraints. We will develop solutions that will require negligible initial implementation costs, minimal training and expertise for operation, and significantly lower running costs than current detection technologies. This addresses a key objective of the Horizon 2020 work program of addressing the needs of the most vulnerable groups.

More Information

ARREST-TB is sponsored by Horizon 2020