Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a serious public health threat in India. Often, it takes months before doctors are even able to pick up on the fact that an individual with the infection has been afflicted with a multi-drug resistant strain. Researchers at MedGenome Lab, based out of Bommasandra in Bengaluru, have come up with a groundbreaking technique which will allow for drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis to be detected.
Using ‘SPIT SEQ’, a Whole Genome Sequencing based test, doctors can now obtain a detailed analysis of the mutations which are present in a tuberculosis bacteria. Drug resistance can also be detected which will allow doctors to prescribe an individual the medicine which will treat their particular strain rather than spend a month attempting treatment via trial and error, to discover which medication can be used in a particular individual.
“SPIT SEQ is a massive breakthrough that can help millions. This particular test not only brings accurate results but also saves a lot of time where TB treatment is concerned. In line with India’s objective to counter TB effectively and quickly, we aim to benefit the last person living with TB today”, said Dr VL Ramprasad, COO, MedGenome Labs.
With this technology, doctors can simply test an individual’s samples to determine what medication would work most effectively to treat the person.
“Direct Whole Genome Sequencing reveals information on drug resistance mutations for all anti TB drugs in a matter of 10 days. Soon, this technology will help in optimising the precise management of an MDR-TB patient,” stated Dr Camilla Rodriques, P D Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai, to the media.
In March 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India would eradicate tuberculosis by the year 2025. However, several health experts have noted that given the high rate of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the country, this will not be easy to achieve.