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Our scientists have led an international team to show we can diagnose patients faster, cheaper and more effectively by analysing the DNA of the bacteria infecting patients.

DNA analysis technology has been evolving rapidly over the last 20 years, but this is the first time the technique has been used on such a large scale, in a busy, real-life setting.

Researchers all over the world went head-to-head with the ‘traditional’ methods. They showed that DNA analysis was able to detect Tuberculosis and predict which antibiotics should be used up to eight times faster, so patients could receive the right treatment sooner. They were also able to detect and respond to potential outbreaks more rapidly to prevent infections spreading. Surprisingly for such a cutting-edge technique- it also cost less.

MMM is proud to show that world-leading UK-based science can lead to improvements in the treatment of patients.

Dr. Louise Pankhurst, who wrote the report published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, said:
“This is a really exciting time to be working in infectious disease research. The UK is poised to become the first country in the world to replace traditional tuberculosis diagnosis with whole genome sequencing. Our study has shown how this will dramatically speed up the time taken to diagnose TB, helping patients be placed on the most effective treatment as soon as possible and reducing the risk of disease transmission.”

A full press release is  available from the University of Oxford: Scientists use DNA technology to diagnose cases of TB faster. Also available via  Public Health England and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

You can read more about our work on TB:

Global team aims for faster TB diagnosis

Teamwork: how we work together to study TB 

and previous publications on the use of Whole Genome Sequencing to study TB

Walker et al, Whole-genome sequencing for prediction of Mycobacterium tuberculosis drug susceptibility and resistance: a retrospective cohort study, Lancet Infectious Diseases 2015

Waler et al, Whole-genome sequencing to delineate Mycobacterium tuberculosis outbreaks: a retrospective observational study, Lancet Infectious Diseases 2013