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Metropolis launches whole-genome sequencing tuberculosis diagnostics

Metropolis Healthcare Ltd., India’s leading diagnostic service provider, today launched NEXTGEN TB whole genome sequencing of Tuberculosis utilizing the Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) platform for rapid identification of drug resistance in TB patients and providing genotypic level information on drug-resistant genes for up to 18 Anti – TB antibiotics.

Partnering with HaystackAnalytics Pvt. Ltd. (start-up incubated at SINE, IIT Bombay), Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. has become the first diagnostic service provider in India to launch NGS as a routine diagnostic test, and plans to offer this test in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, UAE, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania as well as 3 other African countries to help their fight against Tuberculosis.

The 18 drugs covered are Streptomycin, Isoniazid, Rifampicin, Ethambutol, Pyrazinamide, Kanamycin, Amikacin, Capreomycin, Ofloxacin, Moxifloxacin, Gatifloxacin, Ethionamide, Para-amino salicylic acid, Linezolid, Clofazimine, Bedaquiline, Pretomanid, and Delaminid.

NEXGEN TB has a better turnaround time with much faster and reliable results. Additionally, any novel drug resistance genetic mutations can be identified by whole-genome sequencing using NGS.

According to India TB Report 2021, the NGS test has already been recommended by the Central TB division as a preferred diagnostic technology for TB but the launch of the technology in India was to date hindered by the lack of technical and computational bottlenecks which Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. has stepped up to solve.

Talking about the launch Ms. Ameera Shah, Promoter & Managing Director of Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. commented, “It’s an honour to partner with homegrown start-up, HaystackAnalytics Pvt. Ltd. to help launch NEXTGEN TB, as its need has become essential to this world. With TB being around long enough for everyone to know how lethal it could be, it is a sheer moment of pride to be able to launch such a test as we hope this could help us cope through the silent pandemic which has been smouldering against us for so many years.”

Dr. Rohini Kelkar, Consultant, Clinical Microbiologist and Specialist, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. said, “This test is very important as everyone can see the statistics given by the World Health Organisation, that every day around 30,000 people fall sick and about 4,300 people succumb to Tuberculosis. India being the hub of tuberculosis infection with more than 30 Lakh cases every year, it is vital to have a test like this which is readily available, and it should potentially help us reduce these numbers by significant margins.”

Dr. Niranjan Patil (MD, Microbiology), Scientific Business head- Infectious diseases, Microbiology & Molecular biology- Head & Biosafety officer, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. said, “With a high burden of TB in India, understanding the genetic diversity among TB bacilli isolated from patient samples and the genetic determinants for their resistance to anti-tubercular drugs is crucial to stop TB transmission. Whole-genome sequencing-based tests such as Nextgen TB not only identifies the TB species involved & in one go it helps reduce the time for performing anti TB drug susceptibility from weeks to just 7 to 10 days thus saving crucial time for initiation of evidence-based treatment regimens as well as complementing the TB culture-based tests. It also helps to identify any novel mutations responsible for TB drug resistance which is an added advantage.”

India’s TB elimination programme has made great strides in the past few years and Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. is glad to partner with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, in their mission to eliminate Tuberculosis by 2025. MB Bureau