BENGALURU: MedGenome Labs, a city-based genetic testing lab, has developed ‘SPIT SEQ’, the first-of-its-kind Whole Genome Sequencing-based test, that can detect drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria. A hundred samples were tested in collaboration with multiple hospitals and the proprietary discovery will help for quicker diagnosis and treatment, which is an issue that other TB tests face currently. The test was commercially launched on Thursday and is expected to bring down mortality rates.
Other TB tests face issues in sensitivity to detect mutation, take long or detect resistance to some drugs only. For example, MTB test (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is slow-growing, taking 6-8 weeks for culture growth, thereby delaying not only TB diagnosis but also the drug resistance testing. SPIT SEQ is a culture-free WGS (whole genome sequencing) method. Culture tests involve studying bacteria by growing the bacteria on a different substance.
“ We are supplementing these tests with SPIT SEQ than includes taking sputum sample (mix of saliva and mucus), take DNA of the bacteria and perform genome sequencing. A single test can diagnose TB and detect mutation present in any tuberculosis bacteria causing drug resistance. The turn around of the test is 10 days,” said Dr VL Ramprasad, Chief Operating Officer, MedGenome Labs. Of the 100 samples, 48 were from P D Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai.
“Poor accuracy of detecting TB makes diagnosis slow. All 48 samples we received tested positive,” said Dr Camilla Rodriques, consultant microbiology and chairperson of Infection Control Committee at Hinduja.
The test costs between Rs 8000 and Rs 10,000.