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Tuberculosis Diagnosis and Drug Sensitivity Testing: An Overview of the Current Diagnostic Pipeline

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Photograph by Remco Bohle

This analysis of the TB diagnostics research and development (R&D) pipeline, along with an accompanying report on the TB drug development pipeline, stem from the frustration of MSF medical practitioners at the lack of simple, reliable tools for detecting TB at point-of-care, and by the growing need for drug susceptibility testing in MSF and other programmes.

This report aims to review the current status of the development of new diagnostics for TB, and to answer the questions: What can we expect from the TB diagnostics pipeline? and What do we need to do to ensure that effective tools are developed?

Further, this report draws upon a review of the literature, company listings, direct contact with scientists, researchers and companies, and input from MSF doctors and laboratory technicians working in MSF projects around the world. MSF doctors treat TB patients in specialised TB projects, in HIV/TB integrated programmes, in primary health care contexts, and in specialised drug resistant TB settings. This report draws on their experience and frustrations and tries to determine whether the tools that are being developed are likely to respond to the needs identified.