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Indian Express
20 February 2011
By Majid Jahangir
Chandigarh, India

City Anchor India Will be the First Country in the World to Put the `Gene Xpart Test' Machine on Trial
WITH nearly 1.96 million new cases of Tuberculosis (TB) detected in the country ever year, a new machine `Gene Xpart test' will be installed on trial in the four national laboratories to detect the TB virus within 90 minutes.

If the trial is successful, it will be a big breakthrough as TB patients in the country will be put on appropriate standard treat ment as soon as possible.

At present, the virus is detected either in six weeks through the conventional tests currently available across the country, or LPA (line probe assay) which can diagnose TB within 48 hours.

"If the `Gene Xpart test' trial is successful, it will be a huge achievement in the fight against TB in the country," said the LRS Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases Director Professor D Behera. The Insti tute is an apex body in the country for prevention, control and treatment of tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases.

"We all know that TB is an infectious disease and it is very important for all of us to detect TB early for treating the patient," he added. In fact, the decision to install the `Gene Xpart test' at four centres in the country, which are yet to be identified, was taken at the National Laboratory Committee meeting held at Hyderabad on January 15. "The committee has agreed to install `Gene Xpart test' machines at four centres and the TB detection tests will be conducted on sputum. We will check the feasibility, the cost of the each test and all other aspects of the machine," said Behera.

"We will be the first country in the world to undertake the trial of the new machine," he informed. Behera said that the country was doing well to fight the TB disease which is a major public health problem in India.

"As per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, we have to detect 70 per cent cases of new TB and treat 90 per cent by the end of 2011. In the past, we did better than what WHO had set as standards," Behera said.

According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for one-fifth of the globa TB cases. The WHO estimates reveal that annually around 330,000 Indians die of TB.

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