The conference was held over five days in Lille, France and attended by the world’s leaders in the fight against tuberculosis. Of specific interest to Signature Mapping Medical Sciences were several themes that were repeated in presentations, panels and one-on-one discussions. Listed below are those observations.
Smear microscopy will remain the first-line diagnostic tool used in labs and clinics because of cost, familiarity with the technology, training, and the ability to get the diagnostic tools closer to the local patients. The most frequently discussed topic was molecular sputum diagnostics (GeneXpert and others) and the role it should play in TB diagnostics. An official from the World Health Organization (WHO), during one of the keynote presentations, put molecular diagnostics in the following light, “GeneXpert is not intended to replace smear microscopy.”
Because the clinical trial results of the South African clinical trial have yet to be published, Signature Mapping TBDx remains a relatively unknown addition to the diagnostic landscape. Sean Kennedy, our Chief Technology Officer, spent a great deal of his time educating interested parties on the capabilities, performance, and the fully automated hardware-software solution represented by TBDx.
Image processing for the automated detection of TB bacilli has largely been theoretical with limited development occurring at universities, on mostly pristine sputum specimens. Those universities have abandoned efforts in image processing because of the vast variability in staining quality and the difficulty to auto-focus the digital camera to capture high quality images.
As a result of the global economic crisis most countries are anticipating reductions in the amount of funds available from external sources. Any new solution in the market must be cost effective with a potential to move diagnostics closer to the point-of-care. Molecular tests are considered an important layer in the overall TB diagnostic process, particularly in patients co-infected with HIV. However, the cost per patient is far too costly to be applied broadly to all sputum specimens.
TBDx sits in a unique and favorable diagnostic position. It is the only automated sputum microscopy TB diagnostic solution available in the market today. It is a technology platform that can be used for multiple tropical diseases. It is a low cost diagnostic tool that can be deployed as a mass population TB screening device.
Please check back tomorrow as we will provide an update on potential opportunities that developed in Lille.