APN News

WHO Issues Groundbreaking Guidelines for Rapid Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Diagnosis: SPIT SEQ Leading the Charge

Dr Gunisha Pasricha, Principal Scientist, Infectious Disease Expert, MedGenome

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has just published a landmark recommendation on the use of a new class of diagnostic technologies: targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) tests for the diagnosis of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). Until recently there were no WHO-recommended rapid diagnostics (WRDs) that can detect resistance to all the drugs in a single test. The new recommendations from WHO provide a novel approach for the rapid detection of drug resistance specially to new anti-TB drugs (bedaquiline, linezolid, delamanid and pretomanid) in a single test. Resistance to new and repurposed drugs is gradually increasing in the community and this recommendation is a very important step forward to combat.  It is important that the National TB elimination program should consider these recommendations immediately and implement them.  

These newer tests provide a culture-free diagnosis of drug-resistant TB directly in the clinical sample. These tests reveal much more of the resistance-associated MTBC genome than traditional drug-susceptibility testing (DST) assays. MedGenome’s SPIT SEQ is targeted whole genome sequencing based NGS test which has been validated in both pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB for drug resistance testing.  Since SPIT SEQ is a whole genome sequencing culture free based method, newer mutations associated with drug resistance are incorporated in our dynamic pipeline to perform drug resistance testing for all TB drugs (old, new and repurposed).

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a pressing global health concern. India shoulders a considerable disease burden, with an estimated 21.4 Lakh TB cases reported in 2021, indicating 18% increase compared to 2020 TB cases  and 124000  (9.1/lakh population) MDR/RR-TB cases. With these disheartening statistics, MDR TB detection and controlling its spread is the need of the hour. To meet the global and Indian TB elimination targets we must drastically expand access to drug-resistance testing, for both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant TB.”

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