Developed by a local diagnostics company with technical assistance and resources by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), Truenat MBT is a cost-effective molecular test that can be used ‘‘near-patient’’ as a means to curb the TB menace.
The battery-operated, handheld machine takes about 25 minutes for DNA extraction and another 35 minutes for diagnosing TB. It takes an additional hour for testing rifampicin resistance. Compared with a one ml of sample needed when GeneXpert, a molecular test developed in the US, is used, only about 0.5 ml is required for a test with Truenat MTB.
Based on the results of a preliminary test carried out on 191 patient samples in 2013, the sensitivity of Truenat MTB was found to be over 91% and the specificity was 100%. The results of the study were published in January 2013 in the journal PLOS ONE.
With the Truenat MTB test, sputum sample can be tested as soon as a patient starts showing symptoms. The entire set-up, being battery operated and portable, can be deployed even at “low infrastructure” settings of peripheral health care facilities as compared to other available test methods that required special laboratories within a controlled environment. Therefore, it is being pitched as the best TB test variant for wide-scale use in India and other countries of South-East Asia which accounts for 50% of global TB burden.
Six countries – India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa – account for 60 percent of the new TB cases in the world. India, China and the Russian Federation account for 45 pe cent of multi-drug resistant cases in the world, according to WHO data.