The conference in Lille, France produced a significant number of new opportunities to advance TBDx as a product and to extend the branding of TBDx as a new and powerful TB diagnostic application. Listed below are some of the more significant opportunities, in no particular order.
Dr. Susan Dorman – professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University and a medical Director of the Baltimore City Health Department TB Clinic. Dr. Dorman does research on TB diagnosis and treatment in the US, Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria. Ms. Dorman is also the Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Clinical Studies for The Tuberculosis Clinical Diagnostics Research Consortium (CDRC – www.tbcdrc.org) which was established September 2009 by the award of a contract to Johns Hopkins University from the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. The CDRC is an inter-disciplinary consortium of scientists, clinicians and other trained personnel with expertise in TB diagnostics, clinical trials, and international studies. The CDRC is affiliated with four established clinical study sites in TB endemic countries. At these sites, CDRC conducts feasibility studies of new diagnostics and provides input back to the technology holder with respect to further development or evaluation. The CDRC will collaborate with other TB research networks and consortia having a common goal of identifying better diagnostic tools and strategies for TB.
Specifically, Dr. Dorman and CDRC have offered their assistance in providing data and slides from their four clinical study sites, access to their microbiologists for exchange of domain knowledge, and to potentially include TBDx in the clinical studies. Inclusion in the clinical studies would lead to the international publication of results further validating TBDx.
Among the most interesting opportunities is a joint development project with Mr. Richard Anthony, the research coordinator for the tuberculosis research group at The Royal Institute of Tropical Medicine (www.kit.nl) in the Netherlands. Mr. Anthony is interested in using image processing to analyze time-lapsed images of sputum specimens in culture. The project objective would be the discovery of TB bacilli at the earliest stages of growth. In today’s laboratory environment culture is considered the ‘gold standard’ and produces both high sensitivity and specificity, at a price. The price is the amount of time it takes before the culture can be analyzed and a determination made. Imaging processing could potentially shorten the period of time required for a determination. Since the conference we have been exchanging information with objective to move to a proof of concept shortly after the New Year.
Dr. Bernard Fourie (www.sahealthinfo.org/noveldrug/mrc.htm), Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the School of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa has indicated a strong interest in conducting a research project using TBDx. The clinical study would be conducted at the National Health Laboratory facility located at the University of Pretoria. The project would be funded by an outside global funding agency with Dr. Fourie publishing results upon completion.
Within the next two weeks we hope to update you on the activities in South Africa and their implications on the global tuberculosis arena.