Patient serum antibodies to mycolic acids have the potential to be surrogate markers of active tuberculosis
(TB) when they can be distinguished from the ubiquitously present cross-reactive antibodies to
cholesterol. Mycolic acids are known to interact more strongly with antibodies present in the serum of
patients with active TB than in patients with latent TB or no TB. Examples of single stereoisomers of
mycolic acids with chain lengths corresponding to major homologues of those present in Mycobacterium
tuberculosis have now been synthesised with a sulfur substituent on the terminal position of the -chain;
initial studies have established that one of these binds to a gold electrode surface, offering the potential
to develop second generation sensors for diagnostic patient antibody detection.