Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

New method to test tuberculosis virulence

Posted by Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPCResponsive · Patents for licensing · Spain

Summary of the technology

A new easy, fast and reliable method to determine the virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) has been developed by a group of scientists from UPC and IGTP. Partners to further develop the technology and/or to establish comercial agreements along with technical cooperation are sought.

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

The Challenge


Tuberculosis is a disease caused primarily from airborne infection of alveolar macrophages by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In most cases, inoculation of the bacillus becomes a latent infection for years controlled by the host immune response. However, for a rate of 10% the infection can progress to disease years after inoculation. The virulence clinically considered as the capacity of producing illness, is determined by the progress to active disease. Virulence of MTB strains is ordinarily determined by its maximum growth rate in in vitro acellular medium or in ex vivo macrophages cultures.
Due to the emerging MTB strains and the difficulties to obtain reliable and fast results, new experimental models are sought to determine the potential virulence of a new detected clinical strain and to relate it to clinical relevance.

The Technology


The present patented invention relates a new a method to determine the virulence of MTB strains.
This method is based on the analysis and determination of the bacilli aggregates size distribution from samples obtained after culturing M.tuberculosis strains in liquid media until the exponential growth. The image analysis revealed 2 types of patterns suggesting more virulent strains to have more ability to form cords than less virulent strains. The pattern can be also easily determined by analysis of the sedimentation velocity profile.

Current stage of development


The potential of this new method has been tested in vitro and in vivo using seven clinical strains with epidemiological relevance in Spain within the last 20 years and high infectivity observed in macrophage infection plus high or low capacity of producing secondary cases.
Such method has shown to be fast and easy. The correlation of the results and the epidemiology is planned to be confirmed using larger number of cases during next year.

Applications and Target Market


This technology represents the possibility of classifying MTB clinical strains according to their cording properties. This would be useful for analyzing the potential risk of recently isolated clinical MTB strains and thus allowing a better and more accurate medical prescription.
It could represent a new business opportunity specially for companies devoted to diagnostic tests manufacturing.

Innovative advantages


Clinical strains could be classified according to their area distribution of cords and thus to estimate their virulence easily and fast.

Intellectual property status

Granted Patent
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Technology available for licensing with technical cooperation Patent Status PCT application

Technology Owner

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Technology Transfer Office

Related keywords

  • Biological Sciences
  • Medicine, Human Health
  • In vitro Testing, Trials Technology
  • Medical Health related
  • Diagnostic
  • In vitro Testing, Trials Market
  • tuberculosis

About Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Technology Transfer Office from Spain

The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech is a public institution dedicated to higher education and research in the fields of engineering, architecture and science, which contributes its knowledge and expertise in order to increase scientific output, transfer its results to society and provide a network of scientific and technical state-of-the-art facilities and technology valorization services that place us at the leading edge of innovation and economic development.

The UPC has established itself as a driver of innovation and is the technology partner of choice for companies and organizations with which it develops projects and builds partnerships. A role borne out by the numerous agreements and research projects that have been set in motion by groups, organizations and laboratories; the creation of new technology-based companies; the generation and exploitation of patents, and the scientific and technical services UPC makes available to its environment in order to generate progress and employment.

The Technology Transfer Office (SGI) is responsible of Designing, coordinating and implementing research valorisation strategies, carrying out the protection policy of the research results, marketing these results through license contracts and designing and setting up the University's enterprise creation model in order to transfer the results of the research to the market, protect and commercialize these results, promote the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, and create technology-based companies within the UPC environment.

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