WHO updates policies on assays for tuberculosis (TB) and drug resistance

Feb. 19, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) released key updates on new molecular assays to diagnosis tuberculosis (TB) and drug resistance in adults, according to a WHO news release.

The WHO said that diagnosis of TB and drug-resistant TB remains a challenge with a third of people with TB and more than a half of people with drug-resistant TB not receiving quality diagnosis and care globally. To address this challenge, WHO convened a meeting of a Guideline Development Group in December 2020, to update WHO policies on molecular assays used for the diagnosis of TB and drug resistance.

Highlights from the evidence reviewed and presented in a Rapid Communication show high diagnostic accuracy for 3 new classes of technologies:

·        Moderate complexity automated Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs), for detection of TB and resistance to rifampicin and isoniazid

·         Low complexity automated NAATs for detection of resistance to isoniazid and second-line anti-TB agents

·         High complexity hybridization-based NAATs for detection of resistance to pyrazinamide

The WHO expects to release updated official guidelines later in 2021.

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