Sean Kennedy, APVS’s Chief Technology Officer, is representing our interests at The National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) Workshop being held in Chennai, India.
Sean provided the following snapshot of Day 1 ….
The meeting is extremely well attended and the agenda is well organized. There are 7-8 other companies represented at the workshop, including Advenio, Alere, GBD Bio, GeneDrive, ReaMatrix, and TB Biosciences.
The primary objective of the workshop is to introduce NIRT, The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and other medical and laboratory directors overseeing Indian TB labs to companies possessing TB diagnostic technologies that could potentially be integrated into a laboratory diagnostic algorithm to help in the fight against TB in India. Dr. Madhukar Pai, McGill International TB Centre, and co-chair of the workshop reflected upon the desire of India’s Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) to build capacity for enhanced TB diagnostics. That effort requires new diagnostic technologies, which in turn requires scientific evidence to support the diagnostic and operating performance of each currently proposed or future technology. Information generated from these diagnostic test evaluation processes will better educate policy makers on the type of policy changes in diagnostics that could favorably impact the country’s ongoing challenges with TB.
Over the next several days the participants will be educated on the elements associated with well-developed evaluation protocols. Small groups will meet daily with a goal of crafting evaluation protocols. The intent is to have a specific protocol that could be used to evaluate ALL or some of the diagnostic technologies represented at the workshop.
It is hard to say whether financial support is currently available to fund these evaluations, but the idea is to have a sufficiently well-developed protocol that can be used IF these government agencies choose to move forward.
There are a host of very good technologies represented. Many are molecular-based, though the liquefaction/staining product by ReaMatrix is very interesting. I met one of the principals, and we will be working together in one of the groups. It could be a nice marriage of technologies. It includes an Auramine-O stain that produces a bit brighter MTB in the image, which was the point of their staining….to help the microscopist “see” the bacilli better. I don’t know if that would require tweaks to our algorithms or not. But it is definitely worth pursuing.
The TBDx™ presentation went well from my biased impressions. One important fact was made abundantly clear – smear microscopy remains a routine diagnostic approach and is not likely to fade from usage for many more years. I was asked many very good questions that I took as a sign of high interest in automated smear microscopy. I am confidently hopeful that TBDx™ will be included in the process to develop a protocol to evaluate our technology, and I’ll know more about that as we start the small group meetings starting tomorrow.
Additionally, I will have an opportunity to visit the National and State Laboratories located at NIRT this week, and hope to see a local laboratory later in the week.