They travelled with Dr Ben Cobb, from Epistem, the Manchester-based company that developed the platform. Genedrive is a molecular test aiming to speed up the diagnosis of tuberculosis and the identification of drug resistant TB. This is the first evaluation in Africa and the study has recruited close to 400 patients towards the target of 1600. The study will assess the performance of the test in a laboratory setting and further planned studies will explore whether the tests could be used at health post level, which would greatly increase its reach for diagnosis.
The team visited the district hospitals recruiting patients in Abuja and met the TB clinic staff. The head of the Nigerian TB programme, Dr Joshua Obasanya, visited ZMC to see Genedrive in action and commented the test had potential to test patients closer to their homes and gave suggestions on how to modify the platform to make it more useful for the Nigerian TB programme.
The principle investigator of the study, Professor Luis Cuevas, is currently in Nigeria undertaking an interim analysis of the evaluation and setting up additional Genedrive machines to increase the number of samples tested. This evaluation is part of an European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) project, which aims to improve the capacity of countries to conduct clinical trials. As part of this project we are also evaluating several TB diagnostics in tandem, including an automated microscope slide reader, the TBDx; building institutional capacity for research and the diagnosis of drug resistant tuberculosis and assessing the feasibility of treated patients with drug-resistant TB in the community. These studies are conducted in partnership with Zankli Medical Centre and the Nigerian TB Programme in Nigeria; HHA-Ethiopia in Southern Ethiopia and the Universities of Barcelona and Paris Sud.
Professor Cuevas said: “An accurate and rapid test for tuberculosis, especially one that can be carried out closer to where patients live has the potential to increase the numbers of patients identified and treated. These diagnostics however need to be evaluated within the health system context in which they will operate to ensure their potential is translated into direct benefits to the patients. We are looking forward to studying the results and assessing how the Genedrive machine performs in the field."