FAST-XDR-Detect project develops faster XDR-TB detection

The EU-funded FAST-XDR-Detect project has developed assays for sensitive and rapid detection of multi drug resistant and extensive drug resistant tuberculosis to allow authorities to initiate proper treatment correction measures.

The project was meant to improve the speed and sensitivity of TB detection to ensure appropriate patient treatment and to track drug resistant strains. While past drug resistant strain detection was performed by the conventional method of detecting TB growth in the presence of antibodies, such a method can take too much time.

The FAST-XDR-Detect project created assays using the method of rifoligotyping to amplify the genomic sequence of TB found in patients, followed by creating a hybrid against the wild-type sequence. The assay was optimized for detecting resistance to isoniazid and rifampicin, two of the most common antibiotics used in TB treatment. Another assay was created to detect antibiotic-resistant strains from patient sputum directly. Such an assay could reduce processing time and allow for the identification of MDR and XDR strains based on phenotypic criteria.

New mutations leading to drug resistance were sequenced and entered into a database during the project. The researchers explored the potential that other candidate genes could add to the emerging new forms of drug resistant strains.

The research completed on the project could improve the overall surveillance of drug resistance to prevent the creation of new strains and to more effectively treat patients.