WHO issues updated laboratory guidance report for drug-resistant tuberculosis, supported by evidence analysis from FIND

  • Updated list of critical concentrations for drug susceptibility testing of medicines used in the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is the result of a long collaboration between the World Health Organization and FIND on TB diagnostics and laboratory strengthening

Geneva, Switzerland – 23 March 2018 – The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) announced today that it has supported the World Health Organization (WHO) through the generation of critical evidence that has informed the updated technical report on critical concentrations for drug susceptibility testing of medicines used in the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis, now released online.

The technical report includes updated laboratory parameters for drug susceptibility testing (DST) of medicines used to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). Testing of drug resistance against these medicines require growing Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the bacterium causing human TB) in the laboratory and exposing the growth (cultures) to different concentrations of a specific medicine to determine the best cut-off (‘critical concentration’) at which the M. tuberculosis strain is defined as resistant or susceptible to the specific drug.

The updated list of critical concentrations for DST of medicines used in the treatment of drug-resistant TB is the result of a long collaboration between WHO and FIND on TB diagnostics and laboratory strengthening. In 2017, FIND conducted extensive systematic reviews to generate new evidence to refine the critical concentrations needed to reliably differentiate susceptible strains of M. tuberculosis from resistant ones. WHO subsequently convened an international Technical Expert Group to review the new evidence and their findings are contained in the technical report.

“Significant progress has been made in the treatment of drug-resistant TB over the last few years and the WHO End TB Strategy calls for universal DST for all people thought to have this serious form of disease,” said Dr Karin Weyer, Coordinator of Diagnostics, Laboratories & Drug resistance at the WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme. “Patients deserve to get the best test possible in order to identify the best treatment regimen for their drug-resistant disease. Using the right cut-off for determining drug resistance in the laboratory is therefore essential”.

“The report contains the most recent scientific knowledge on revised critical concentrations for performing TB DST in different culture media” said Dr Catharina Boehme, CEO of FIND. “Evidence about the optimum concentrations of drugs to test M. tuberculosis strains in vitro provides the clinician with useful insights on how to interpret DST findings and improve the treatment and care of drug-resistant TB patients.”

Supplemental data to the technical report are published on the FIND website.

In addition to support from WHO, FIND’s work in this initiative was funded by UK aid from the UK government.

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About FIND
FIND was established in 2003 as a global non-profit dedicated to accelerating the development, evaluation and delivery of high-quality, affordable diagnostic tests for poverty-related diseases, now including malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, sleeping sickness, hepatitis C, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, Buruli ulcer, non-malarial fever and diseases with outbreak potential, such as Ebola. FIND has partnered in the delivery of 20 new diagnostic tools and created an enabling environment for numerous others through the provision of specimen banks, reagent development and better market visibility. FIND also supports better access to new diagnostics through implementation, quality assurance and lab strengthening work. FIND has nearly 200 partners globally, including research institutes and laboratories, health ministries and national disease control programmes, commercial partners, bilateral and multilateral organizations, especially WHO, and clinical trial sites.

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