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Genetic Testing for Multi-drug Resistant Tuberculosis

GeneXpert, a rapid genetic test for the detection of tuberculosis infection has announced a new Xpert to simultaneously test for MDR/XDR TB.

TB-CRE researchers Prof Guy Marks and A/Prof Greg Fox last year published a seminal study in the New England Journal of Medicine which included community-wide screening for TB using geneXpert rapid molecular testing, and ultimately led to a reduction in TB cases by half over a four year period. Just last week, Cepheid - the company responsible for the geneXpert test - announced a new model capable of detecting tuberculosis infection and resistance to isoniazid, ethionamide, fluoroquinolones, amikacin, kanamycin and capreomycin.

This rapid molecular test promises to detect MDR/XDR TB within 90 minutes, a vast improvement on the up to 16-week wait-time for a traditional MDR diagnosis. Preliminary testing using the new machine by FIND suggests that users can expect similar sensitivity and specificity to other geneXpert models used in TB diagnosis.

In an interview with PRNewswire, Catharina Boehme, the CEO of FIND, commented on the new test; "recent treatment advances are already making a huge impact, but for the best chances of survival, patients need to be able to start on treatment as soon as possible – and the only way for that to happen is through rapid diagnosis. By providing test results in just a few hours, the Xpert MTB/XDR test will save lives."

The TB-CRE has many projects which utilise the geneXpert screening capabilities, particularly in resource-limited settings. Recent work with Prof Steve Graham and Dr Suman Majumdar in Papua New Guinea, A/Prof Greg Fox and Prof Guy Marks in Vietnam, and upcoming work by Prof Ben Marais and Prof Warwick Britton in Kiribati all incorporate geneXpert technology as they work towards TB and DR-TB control in the Asia-Pacific.

The TB-CRE looks forward to future testing and roll-out of the Xpert for MDR/XDR TB as an exciting step in the global effort towards TB elimination.

Read the full report here.

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