Mumbai based research institute on the brink of finding new technology for TB diagnosis
City-based research institute is in final trial phase for new diagnostic tool that will give tuberculosis patients a headstart in treatment with early and affordable diagnosis; state grants Rs 90 lakh for research
Soon, patients won't have to wait for days or weeks on end to find out whether they have tuberculosis or TB — Mumbai-based Haffkine Institute is now in the final stages of testing a new protocol that will deliver the results within an hour. In the fight against TB, an early diagnosis is often half the battle won. It is a contagious infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body, like the brain and spine, and can prove fatal in extreme cases.'
Save time and money
Every year, thousands of people across the state get diagnosed with TB. Last year, over 1.9 lakh patients were treated for the dreaded disease. But presently, testing methods available in the market are either time-consuming or costly. Hence, Haffkine Institute, one of the oldest biomedical research institutes in the country, is working on a diagnostic system that will address these issues. The biotechnology department of the government has, for the first time, tied up with the institute and also sanctioned a grant of Rs 90 lakh.
Dr Nishigandha R Naik, Haffkine director, said “It is essential for early and faster diagnosis of TB. Currently, TB diagnosis is done through lab analysis, which takes around three weeks. Genexpert provides faster diagnosis, but is extremely expensive and poor patients cannot afford it. Hence, we started researching to produce something that provides more accurate data quicker.”
The centre has named the protocol 'ASSURED diagnosis'. The first and second trial phases are over, and the institute will use the government grant to compete the final phase. “To complete the research, we need to collect samples from 100 patients. In our lab test, it has shown positive results while identifying TB bacteria among other organisms,” added Dr Naik.
Need of the hour
Dr Y N Dholakia, honorary secretary, Maharashtra State Anti-TB Association, said that the fastest diagnostic tool available currently is Genexpert, which can deliver results in two hours. “But it is costly. It costs around R2,500. Many government-run hospitals provide the test for free. But considering the load of patients, it takes around two to three
days to issue the results anyway,” said Dr Dholakia. “If the research can produce something is as accurate as Genexpert and also cost-effective, it will be a boon for TB diagnosis,” he added.
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