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In PloS one ; h5-index 176.0

BACKGROUND : Tuberculosis is one of the top ten causes of death globally and the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent. Eradicating the Tuberculosis epidemic by 2030 is one of the top United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Early diagnosis is essential to achieving this goal because it improves individual prognosis and reduces transmission rates of asymptomatic infected. We aim to support this goal by developing rapid and sensitive diagnostics using machine learning algorithms to minimize the need for expert intervention.

METHODS AND FINDINGS : A single molecule fluorescence immunosorbent assay was used to detect Tuberculosis biomarker lipoarabinomannan from a set of twenty clinical patient samples and a control set of spiked human urine. Tuberculosis status was separately confirmed by GeneXpert MTB/RIF and cell culture. Two machine learning algorithms, an automatic and a semiautomatic model, were developed and trained by the calibrated lipoarabinomannan titration assay data and then tested against the ground truth patient data. The semiautomatic model differed from the automatic model by an expert review step in the former, which calibrated the lower threshold to determine single molecules from background noise. The semiautomatic model was found to provide 88.89% clinical sensitivity, while the automatic model resulted in 77.78% clinical sensitivity.

CONCLUSIONS : The semiautomatic model outperformed the automatic model in clinical sensitivity as a result of the expert intervention applied during calibration and both models vastly outperformed manual expert counting in terms of time-to-detection and completion of analysis. Meanwhile, the clinical sensitivity of the automatic model could be improved significantly with a larger training dataset. In short, semiautomatic, and automatic Gaussian Mixture Models have a place in supporting rapid detection of Tuberculosis in resource-limited settings without sacrificing clinical sensitivity.

Huang Yilun, Darr Charles M, Gangopadhyay Keshab, Gangopadhyay Shubhra, Bok Sangho, Chakraborty Sounak