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International News

New Drug-Resistance Test Gives Hope to TB Fight

July 1, 2008

On Monday, the World Health Organization unveiled a molecular test that will quickly allow doctors in poor countries to determine if a patient's TB is multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB). Created by Germany-based Hain Lifescience and Innogenetics, the diagnostic can return results in hours rather than requiring a months-long wait. WHO, UNITAID, and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics are partnering to ensure poor countries affected by the disease will receive the diagnostics and necessary support.

"We are capable now of making a diagnosis of MDR-TB within hours," said Mario Raviglione, director of WHO's Stop TB department.

Using only a saliva sample, the new test can show whether TB is treatable with the two main antibiotics used against the disease, isoniazid and rifampicin. Previously, the bacteria in the sample had to be incubated for as long as 60 days to test its susceptibility to various antibiotics. The quicker test will allow doctors to prescribe the right drugs needed in time to fight the bacteria. Using the wrong drugs can exacerbate MDR-TB and lead to the deadlier extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB). Hain is also working to develop a test for XDR-TB, WHO said.

In combination with efforts to reduce the cost of second-line TB drugs, WHO said the initiative could help boost the worldwide rate of appropriately diagnosed and treated MDR-TB from 2 percent to 15 percent.

WHO and partners will provide Lesotho with lab equipment and training to use the test first, Raviglione said. Other countries to receive the diagnostics and support are: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Back to other news for July 2008

Adapted from:
6.30.2008; Laura MacInnis

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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