This month, history was made in the TB community: on 26 September, world leaders had the disease at the top of their agenda as they came together at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB (HLM) in New York. This is a critical step forward in the fight against TB, as it is clear that political will and funding are the major roadblocks to ending the TB epidemic, even as scientific breakthroughs emerge. Making this point, our Head of TB, Claudia Denkinger, addressed the HLM with a joint statement made on behalf of our community.
An exciting advance on the TB diagnostics side is the culmination of a decade of research that has enabled a technological breakthrough in point-of-care testing using urine samples. The Fujifilm SILVAMP TB LAM test has shown promise in people co-infected with HIV, and we believe this could be the first of a new generation of LAM tests that will transform TB diagnosis for all. At a side event co-organized by FIND immediately ahead of the HLM – where I was joined by Dr Tedros, Michel Sidibé and Dr Eric Goosby among others – we announced a call for trial partners to generate the evidence package needed by WHO for this test and called on stakeholders to streamline regulatory approval processes and rapidly implement policy recommendations, in order to get new products like this one into the hands of those who urgently need them, as soon as possible.
Our hepatitis C virus (HCV) team also received a boost this month with the news that the Cepheid Xpert HCV VL Fingerstick test received CE-IVD clearance. This new tool enables blood from a fingerprick to be tested for HCV using GeneXpert machines. FIND, with the support of Unitaid and the Dutch government, was involved in development of the assay and cartridge, and conducted a multicentre clinical study across 6 countries, in over 1400 patients, providing results that supported the CE mark submission.
To highlight the difference diagnostics are making to peoples’ lives in LMICs, today we are launching our FIND Instagram channel – please do take a look and follow us. Alongside stories from patients and health professionals, we will also post insights into the daily project work of FIND staff, such as Karell Pellé’s recent visit to Kano State, Nigeria, to advance the scale up and use of mHealth tools to improve clinical diagnosis of childhood fevers, and Ryan Ruiz leading a series of laboratory trainings to kick off the HCV HEAD-Start project in Georgia.
We are also very pleased to have convened our first Diagnostics Ambassadors meeting this month, during the annual Advanced Course on Diagnostics (ACDx) held in Annecy, France. The expertise of this diverse group of people is central to our ongoing advocacy efforts to demonstrate the value of diagnostics.
Finally, I would like to personally congratulate our Board member, Dr Carlos Morel, on being the 2018 recipient of the TechMining for Global Good award.