FIND and BD collaborate to evaluate cheaper TB test

The Foundation for Innovation and New Diagnostics, a non-profit aimed at developing and implementing affordable diagnostic technologies, recently announced a new collaboration to evaluate the potential use of a cheaper TB screening platform.

FIND will work with Becton, Dickinson and Company, a leading global medical technology company, on a feasibility project to evaluate the potential use of a low-cost, image-based platform that is now in development. The platform represents an advancement in diagnostics with the potential to streamline TB detection and work more effectively than conventional methods.

"There is a need for improved TB detection, particularly at the lowest levels of a health system," Renuka Gadde, the vice president of global health at BD, said. "BD's image-based technology will enable simpler, more accurate detection and will enhance TB detection among HIV-TB co-infected populations where microscopy screening may be inadequate. We believe this new technology will play a key part in reaching the missing millions of patients who currently escape TB diagnosis in health systems."

Detection of TB in patients can be difficult and typically requires repeat testing in a clinical specimen. The disease can be even more difficult to detect in patients with HIV/AIDS. The new platform is meant to more accurately identify smear negative and otherwise culture positive patients within just 10 minutes of running the diagnostic.

BD and FIND are committed to stopping TB from spreading, particularly multi-drug-resistant TB.

"The bad news is that MDR-TB is a public health crisis - the health sector urgently needs rapid, accurate and affordable diagnostics to help detect the disease and to help preserve the effectiveness of the few drugs that really work - the good news is that this new tool has some real potential to do that," Catharina Boehme, the CEO of FIND, said.

The World Health Organization estimates that there are 33 million people infected with TB worldwide, approximately one third of which are living with HIV. In 2011, the WHO estimated that 310,000 new MDR-TB cases occur annually.