A test developed by MedGenome Labs, called SPIT SEQ, gives a detailed analysis of every single mutation present in the tuberculosis bacteria, causing drug resistance directly from the sputum. This break-through will enable doctors to quickly and accurately prescribe the most effective drug to a tuberculosis patient without any tests which usually take a month to process.

India has the largest number of multi-drug resistant (MDR-TB) TB cases.

The test is based on whole genome sequencing of mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), the TB causing bacteria, to assess the mutations in bacteria’s genome and allows a clinician to determine which drugs will work for a patient.

This test has been validated with over 100 samples where it recorded with 100 per cent sensitivity and 98.04 per cent specificity when compared with Line Probe Assay (LPA).

About 50 of those samples were conducted in association with PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai. A manuscript is under review for publication. “Direct Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) reveals information on drug resistance mutations for all anti-TB drugs in 10 days. Soon, this technology will help in optimising the precise management of an MDR-TB patient,” said Camilla Rodrigues, a doctor at PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre.

Global report

According to WHO report, there were 2.7 million TB cases (incidence and relapse) in 2017 and India accounted for 27 per cent of global TB deaths. Globally, 3.5 per cent of the new TB cases and 18 per cent of previously-treated patients suffered from relapse due to the immunity developed by tuberculosis bacteria.

MTB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is slow-growing, taking 6-8 weeks for culture growth, thereby delaying not only TB diagnosis but also the drug resistance testing. SPIT SEQ is a culture-free WGS method for identification of MTB and prediction of drug resistance with a turnaround time of 10 working days.


With the flagship test for tuberculosis ‘SPIT SEQ’, MedGenome Labs is entering into infectious disease genetics and collaborating with XCyton Diagnostics, Bangalore.

This collaboration will boost integration of various genetic tests under infectious diseases available with XCyton through the network established by MedGenome Labs. These tests include eye infections, brain and blood infections. MedGenome will be the exclusive sales partner for all XCyton tests in India.

The writer is an intern with BusinessLine