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Expeditious TB Tests

New rapid tests for extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis appear highly accurate.

By | September 10, 2013

FLICKR, NIAIDDrug-resistant tuberculosis continues to evolve. Three new rapid and accurate tests for extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) may reduce the time it takes to identify the most sweeping form of drug resistance in TB to under a week, according to MedPage Today.

“Our findings suggest these three tests could provide a quicker way to identify patients who need alternative treatment regimens,” University of California, Davis, professor Antonino Catanzaro, who presented the study results at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Barcelona earlier this week (September 8), said in a press release. “This is very important and could potentially save lives as well as help to curb the rise of drug-resistant TB.”

Researchers tested the three methods on more than 1,000 tuberculosis patients in South Africa, Moldova, and India. They compared the results to those obtained through the traditional Mycobacteria Growth Indicator Tube (MGIT) test, which takes a median of 25 days to produce results.

One new method, called the Line Probe Assay (LPA), detects common mutations behind drug resistance in only one to two days. A second, called the Microscopic Observation Drug Susceptibility (MODS) test, took five to seven. A third method, based on pyrosequencing, took as little as one day or as long as a few hundred days, and was more difficult to use, MedPage Today reported.

The new methods matched traditional MGIT results more than 95 percent of the time for most forms of antibiotic resistance. The new methods only matched MGIT results for kanamycin resistance 91 percent to 92 percent of the time.

Rapid tests for extensive drug resistance are important because patients often disappear during long waits for their test results or continue to move around their community, spreading drug-resistant TB, Francesco Blasi, the president of the European Respiratory Society, told MedPage Today.

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