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Genome Study Discovers Direct Transmission of More Dangerous Tuberculosis in Urban Areas

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Direct Transmission Of Deadlier Tb In City, Finds Genome Study, ET HealthWorld

A recent study conducted by an IIT Bombay startup, Haystacks Analytics, in collaboration with the BMC and Pune-based D Y Patil Medical College, has shed light on the alarming prevalence of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in India. The study, which analyzed 600 patients with drug-resistant TB, revealed that 51 percent of them had advanced disease, rendering four or more drugs ineffective. The research utilized the latest TB diagnostics technology known as whole genome sequencing, with samples primarily collected from Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

Among the findings, the study highlighted that 51 percent of the patients had pre-extensively drug-resistant (pre-XDR) TB, while 15.5 percent had multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The study, published in Microbiology Spectrum, indicates that there is active transmission of pre-XDR TB in Mumbai, particularly among individuals in the productive age group. Despite the government not yet incorporating whole genome sequencing (WGS) into the National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP), the medical community has devised guidelines for its usage based on the study’s results.

Anirvan Chatterjee, the main author of the study, emphasized the importance of WGS in identifying the right drug combinations for effective treatment of drug-resistant TB. WGS, as endorsed by the World Health Organization, can provide a detailed drug susceptibility report within 10 to 14 days, significantly shorter than traditional culture tests. Dr. Mangala Gomare, a co-author of the study and former executive health officer of the BMC, advocated for the widespread adoption of WGS to customize treatment for patients with drug-resistant TB, especially given the rising incidence of pre-XDR TB cases.

The study’s findings underscore the urgent need for proactive measures to combat the growing threat of drug-resistant TB in India. By leveraging advanced diagnostics like WGS, healthcare providers can tailor treatment plans more effectively and improve outcomes for patients battling drug-resistant forms of the disease.

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