Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine recently developed an online tool that can predict which drugs are best for each tuberculosis (TB) patient.
The tool interprets and analyzes the genome sequence data in order to predict whether patients have genetic resistance to the 11 drugs that are used to treat TB. This eliminates any reliance on specialized bio-informatics skills that clinical settings do not have readily at hand. This test only requires a few minutes to complete, which speeds up treatments by days or even weeks.
“Sequencing already assists patient management for a number of conditions such as HIV, but now that it is possible to sequence M. tuberculosis from sputum from suspected multi-drug resistance patients means it has a role in the management of tuberculosis,” Taane Clark, reader in genetic epidemiology and statistical genomics, said. “We have developed a prototype to guide treatment of patients with drug resistant disease, where personalized medicine and treatment offers improved rates of cure."
TB Alert co-author Ruth McNerney said this is a welcome step forward in the battle against drug resistance.
"It is now time to take sequencing out of the research lab and into the clinic," she said. "Patients with drug resistant disease have to endure many months of treatment with toxic drugs with no guarantee of success. Personalized treatment will increase their chances of survival while minimizing the horrible side effects."
More details about how the new tool operates are available in Genome Medicine, an open access journal.