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As resistance to new and repurposed drugs gradually increases, better diagnostic options for rapid diagnosis of drug-resistant tuberculosis are needed.
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WHO Issues Guidance on Targeted NGS for Drug-Resistant TB Diagnosis

Rapid communication to update stakeholders on the changes in the drug-resistant TB detection options

World Health Organization
Published:Jul 25, 2023
|2 min read
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Targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) for the detection of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is a new class of diagnostic technology. It provides an option for rapid and accurate genetic analysis and detection of mutations associated with resistance in a fraction of the time required for culture-based methods for detecting resistance. 

Various commercially available end-to-end tests for targeted NGS have become available in recent years that detect resistance to multiple drugs simultaneously, provide rapid results with testing directly on patient samples, and have the potential to assimilate new information on genetic markers for resistance as they become known. 

“Innovative diagnostic options for people with drug-resistant TB, such as targeted NGS, are increasing; thanks to manufacturer engagement and research generating new evidence,” said Tereza Kasaeva, MD, PhD, director of the WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Programme. “Ensuring that everyone in need can obtain a rapid and accurate diagnosis of drug-resistant TB will save lives and reduce suffering.”

Detection of all categories of drug-resistant TB remains a challenge and more comprehensive drug susceptibility testing solutions are needed. The introduction of new drugs and repurposing of existing drugs for the treatment of TB and drug-resistant TB have generated new regimens at a rapid rate, improving treatment options, outcomes, and quality of life in individuals with TB. However, as resistance even to these new and repurposed drugs gradually increases, better diagnostic options for rapid diagnosis of drug-resistant TB are needed.

WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Programme convened a Guideline Development Group meeting between 02 and 05 May, 2023, to review the available evidence on using targeted NGS solutions and make recommendations on their clinical use in detecting drug-resistant TB.

The Rapid Communication is released in advance of updated WHO consolidated guidelines for the diagnosis of TB to inform national TB programs and other stakeholders of key changes expected in the available options for TB drug resistance detection and allow for rapid transition and planning at the country level. Further guidance will also be announced soon covering practical information on the steps to the introduction of sequencing and the updated catalog of mutations.

- This press release was originally published on the World Health Organization website