India will soon have its own cost-effective diagnostic tool for tuberculosis (TB), which is expected to be available in a year.
“A Bengaluru-based company has made the new diagnostic tool which is going to be more point-of-care and we hope it will be as good as GeneXpert test— the current diagnostic tool for TB, suitable for use in disease-endemic countries, according to World Health Organization(WHO),” Soumya Swaminathan, the Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), told PTI.
GeneXpert is a molecular test, which diagnoses TB by detecting the presence of TB bacteria as well as testing for resistance to the drug Rifampicin. It is known for providing results in a couple of hours with very less hands-on technical time.
According to Soumya, the evaluation of the new drug will be over in the next three months. The production will be scaled up if it is found to be good, which may take another six months. “It maybe a year before the diagnostic tool is available,” she told PTI.
ICMR is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research. It is researching on better treatment strategies for TB diagnostics and is also working to speed up rapid diagnostics for TB. Additionally, the organization is also developing a new vaccine for TB and has applied for regulatory clearance to start the phase three trial.
According to the TB-India Report 2015, by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, one-fourth of all TB cases worldwide are reported in India. Out of the estimated nine million TB cases reported in the world in 2013, 2.1 million were estimated to have occurred in India. As many as 2.4 lakh people die due to the disease annually. Under India’s Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP), there are over 13,000 centres across the country where diagnostic facilities for TB have been made available.