FIND manages several collections, including its own and two for WHO, of well-characterized TB specimens for use by researchers, developers and manufacturers of TB diagnostics. Providing access to these specimens serves to support the development and evaluation of new and existing tools to improve TB diagnosis. Sample types range from sputum to urine, plasma and serum.
Since 2015, FIND has added strains and DNA from MDR-TB and pre-XDR-TB patients. FIND’s Virtual Strain Bank (see below) enables researchers and developers to identify strains housed at FIND.
All specimens are collected at qualified clinics, under a protocol approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and with informed consent from patients meeting the inclusion criteria for sample collection. FIND follows good clinical and laboratory practice in obtaining and processing samples. If special collection methodology or sample matrix is required, requesters can email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the bank, please see TB Specimen Bank FAQ.
All requests for samples are made by submitting a Material Request Form and a Material Transfer Agreement (part of the material request form). Each request is reviewed by the Specimen Bank Review Committee (SBRC). Upon approval, samples are prepared and shipped to the requester. All sample requesters/ recipients are encouraged to report back with the data derived from their use of FIND samples (see Data Transfer Report below). The samples are stored in, and distributed from, central repositories in France and the U.S.
Please direct any questions to: email@example.com
Molecular Developers Toolset
This toolset, currently under development, will allow manufacturers and researchers to work with standardized panels of drug-resistant and drug-sensitive strains. The panels will enable testing for dynamic range and limit of detection, comparing performance between different assays and performing external quality assurance.
The well-characterized strains that will be included in the panel are inactivated by a proprietary method and re-suspended at a set concentration. The panel members are non-infectious and stable at 2-8°C. The initial panel will contain five strains across a number of different lineages, with one member being resistant to rifampicin and another being multidrug-resistant. Following availability of the five-strain panel, FIND has plans to further expand the Toolset.
Virtual Strain Bank
FIND has officially launched the Virtual Strain Bank (VSB), an online database that allows researchers and test developers to have an overview of globally accessible TB strains.
Currently, the VSB contains the relevant meta-data for 409 of the approximately 800 strains available in the FIND specimen bank, and will be updated as more strains become available. We encourage users to examine the existing strain data from FIND and partners, upload their own strain data, and connect with partners through the VSB to request strains for their projects.
The VSB aims to support and facilitate collaboration between researchers and developers to further TB diagnostic development. Registration for the VSB is free of charge and the database is easily searchable. Strains can be filtered and selected based on criteria such as country, clade, drug resistance, drug sensitivity, mutations and sequencing data availability.
Other bio-repositories and researchers are invited to share information on the isolates they house in their biobanks, while maintaining ownership and control over their strains. Once users have registered, samples that fit required specifications may be requested directly from FIND. Contact information for other bio-repositories with strains listed will also be included in the VSB.
Specimens from MDR/XDR-TB patients are collected from globally representative sites in South America, South East Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. These specimens (sputum, plasma, serum, PAXgene tubes) are matched with strain isolates and DNA preparations. Characterization includes whole genome sequencing and phenotypic testing against first- and second-line drugs and the minimal inhibitor concentration (MIC).
Approximately 800 strains are currently available in FIND’s specimen bank.