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Medical News

California: Cepheid Unveils Fast TB Test to Aid Developing Countries

March 26, 2009

The California-based molecular diagnostics firm Cepheid announced on Tuesday, World TB Day, that it has created a rapid TB test and will offer it at a reduced cost to developing countries. The automated, DNA-based test also detects drug resistance, which will allow patients with drug-resistant TB to receive appropriate treatment immediately and reduce the chances of transmission, said Dr. David Persing, Cepheid?s chief medical officer.

A traditional "smear test" looking for TB bacteria in sputum on a slide under a microscope does not always detect disease, and it cannot distinguish between resistant TB and strains vulnerable to front-line drugs, Persing said. Further tests for more complete information can take weeks, he said.

Cepheid's TB test detects DNA sequences unique to TB and to drug resistance. The firm's GeneXpert System packs all the lab processes for the test into a cartridge, which is loaded into a machine that can read the results. The readers can be as small as a textbook, which can allow for mobile TB testing far from hospitals, Persing said. Cepheid will sell the test in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions for the cost of the equipment and other expenses such as shipping, he said.

Cepheid will also seek Food and Drug Administration approval of its TB test for the US market by early 2010, Persing added.

Back to other news for March 2009

Adapted from:
San Francisco Chronicle
03.25.2009; Bernadette Tansey

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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.
See Also
Tuberculosis (TB) Fact Sheet
Questions and Answers About Tuberculosis
More News on Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS