Mumbai’s PD Hinduja Hospital is a part of University of Oxford’s ambitious research work on whole genome sequencing (WGS) testing of tuberculosis germ – a faster alternative to identify drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).
Experts say the study results will allow future tuberculosis cases to be treated with the best drugs faster and help control spread of disease, thus contributing to worldwide TB elimination.
The study, which is funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust / MRC Newton Fund, is targeting 1 lakh TB patients from 8-9 countries including India, Vietnam, China, South Africa, Germany, Peru, and Brazil.
Dr Camilla Rodrigues, Microbiologist, who will be spearheading the research at the hospital’s end, said the research started in January and sample size for hospital will be 6,000.
““WGS will help us giving accurate and personalised treatment to tuberculosis patients. It will help us to know the drug resistance at genetic level, region of mutation, level of resistance of a particular drug,” said Rodrigues.
She said the study, which might take 3-4 years to conclude, will help researchers find nearly all changes in germs’ genetic code that could cause drug-resistance, including very rare ones.
“It will help to develop new computer methods to analyse this large amount of genetic data to accurately predict drug-resistance in new TB infections,” said Rodrigues.
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Mumbai girl who had shown resistance to Bedaquiline – one of the two new drugs for TB, last year, succumbed to the TB infection last month, informed Dr Zarir Udwadia, the Chest Physician at PD Hinduja Hospital who was treating her.
Presently, 30 TB patients are on Bedaquiline and three are on Delamanid – the second new drug for TB.
“All 30 patients are doing well. Out of the three TB patients who are presently on delamanid with us, one of the patients is 18-year-old girl from Patna, whose father went to Supreme Court to get the drug available for her.
She is the only patient with us who has been put on both Bedaquiline and Delamanid combination, apart from two other drugs and doing well,” said Udwadia.
While Bedaquiline is available only through a limited-access government programme, Delamanid is set to roll out in over four months in India in a controlled manner to treat extremely resistant cases of the infectious disease.
Presently, Delamanid is available on case to case basis from the company of the request made by the doctor.