Los Angeles: An ingestible sensor that allows doctors to remotely monitor patients’ intake of tuberculosis medicine could revolutionise treatment and cure of the deadly disease in India which has the highest TB burden in the world, a study suggests. A randomised controlled trial, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, involved the sensor connected to a paired mobile.
The trial, conducted in California, produced superior results to directly observed therapy (DOT), where a healthcare worker watches the patient swallow medication. Researchers from the University of California in the US suggest that the technology could be a game changer in high prevalence countries where treatment adherence remains a stumbling block to eliminating TB.
They noted that TB is the world’s largest infectious disease killer, despite it being preventable, treatable and curable. In 2017, 10 million people globally fell ill with TB and 1.6 million died from the disease, the researchers said.
India has the highest TB burden in the world with one in four people affected by the disease residing in the country, they said. The trial demonstrates that Wirelessly Observed Therapy (WOT) was reported as highly accurate in recording medication ingestion (99.3 per cent), the researchers said.
WOT consists of an ingestion sensor composed of minerals, a patch worn on the torso and a paired mobile device. Patients with active TB using WOT were confirmed as taking 93 per cent of their daily prescribed doses as opposed to 63 per cent using DOT, they said.
All the 77 patients using WOT completed treatment, were cured, and preferred it to DOT, according to the researchers. Researchers said the system allowed patients to manage their own medication taking, preserving patient privacy and autonomy, but also enabled highly targeted treatment support from practitioners with permission.
“We are not doing people affected by TB justice when we have robust genomic diagnostic tests and the emergence of new antibiotic drugs that can cure TB but cannot guarantee consistent, convenient and private treatment support for them,” said Sara Browne, a professor at the University of California, who led the trial.