High-tech tests for drug-resistant TB

The Seq&Treat project brings latest diagnostic technology to low- and middle-income countries


In 2018, less than 40% of the estimated 500,000 people with drug-resistant TB were diagnosed, only a quarter of them started treatment, and less than 14 percent were cured.

The spread of drug-resistant TB is a major threat to TB control. Drug susceptibility testing is necessary step to determine which medicine will work a particular patient’s infection. Without a comprehensive picture of which drugs a patient is likely to respond to, the risk of putting patients on ineffective treatments is very high. The result is a poorer outcome for the patient and greater costs for health systems. Universal drug susceptibility testing is a key component of the World Health Organization’s End TB Strategy.


Sequencing-based tests can analyze the genes of a patient’s particular TB bacteria and determine which drugs will work best against it. The technology produces results within 48 hours, a major improvement over culture-based tests that require up to eight weeks. With answers in hand, clinicians can get patients started on the right treatment right away. Prompt, correct treatment reduces the spread of disease and helps thwart the development of drug-resistant microbes.

The three-year Seq&Treat project seeks to lay the groundwork to connect that new technology with those who need it most. The participating countries are Brazil, China, Georgia, India and South Africa.

FIND will work with:

  • manufacturers to assess their sequencing solutions and inform potential adoption in pilot countries
  • local civil society organizations to acquaint communities with the project and lay the groundwork for the eventual scale-up of the new technology by partner organizations
  • global civil society organizations to advocate for better access to diagnostics

“New technologies offer a phenomenal pathway to test and treat more people for tuberculosis, including drug-resistant TB, while strengthening health systems.”

Lelio Marmora, executive director, Unitaid

The impact we are seeking

Sequencing-based testing holds the potential to improve global cure rates. It could also yield savings in treatment costs, because it enables clinicians to prescribe the right medicine to patients from the outset of their treatment.

The technology also has the potential to be an effective weapon in the fight against drug-resistant superbugs.

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Grantee’s project page, click here

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