30 June 2012
Pune: Soon, tests to determine tuberculosis (TB) could be available for as little as Rs 30. The affordable diagnostic kit, developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), promises detection of latent and active TB directly from sputum samples. The low–cost rapid test is expected to be a boon for the country which has the world’s highest TB patients, accounting for a fifth of total cases the world over. Each year, 1.98 million new cases are diagnosed in India, and it accounts for 280,000 deaths. To top this, an estimated 95,000 people are co–infected with HIV and TB.
"The cost for testing TB, using this molecule assay developed by the ICMR scientists, would be as low as Rs 30 to Rs 40, whereas the market price for the same ranges between Rs 100 and Rs 120. The ICMR has invited companies interested in commercialising the kit," VM Katoch, director general of the ICMR told TOI in an exclusive interview on Friday.
Katoch was in the city to review the progress of the bio–safety level four laboratory set up at the NIV’s Microbial Containment Complex at Pashan.
Katoch said, "Innovation in research, product and healthcare delivery is central to the fight against TB. Our detection progress needs to be further honed in the struggle against TB. Infected persons need to be diagnosed before they can pass on the infection. Hence, a test that is quick, cheap, effective and suitable for use in developing countries is the need of the hour. The ICMR TB kit promises to deliver just that."
Approximately four million cases are estimated to go undetected worldwide. Only five per cent of HIV–infected persons are tested for TB; and only one per cent of those co–infected with HIV and TB receive TB treatment.
A patent application has been filed for this technology. "Upon agreement, the engaging company would be responsible to follow certain strategies as a part of kit development," Katoch said.
ICMR’S TUBERCULOSIS DIAGNOSTIC KIT
- The assay kit can be used for detecting latent and active tuberculosis
- It is a very promising candidate for drug susceptibility testing and diagnosing M. tuberculosis more rapidly as the assay allows detection of viable M. tuberculosis in clinical samples
- It can be used as an alternative to antibiotics to control the overgrowth of normal flora in processed sputum samples
- The kit comprises of Phage lysin, Luciferase reporter phage (LRP), G7H9, 0.1M CaCl2, D–Luciferin and is useful as an effective tool for quick diagnosis of tuberculosis in a subject
- It is a promising technique to diagnose actively growing tubercle bacilli present in sputum samples
- The assay is more rapid and sensitive to diagnose tuberculosis as compared to existing methods and can be effectively used in detection of M. tuberculosis in wide range of clinical samples
- It is the only available growth–based method to diagnose presence of latent cells of tubercle bacilli
- The assay is quick, very simple and economically viable