Tata Trusts’ India Health Fund (IHF) will support the biomarker-based blood test of startup, HealSeq. The test is designed to properly predict a patient’s response to TB treatment.
The India Health Fund (IHF), a joint initiative of Tata Trusts and The Global Fund to combat AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, announced on Thursday that it will support HealSeq’s biomarker-based blood test, which is expected to accurately determine a patient’s response to TB treatment within two weeks of treatment initiation.
In March 2020, HealSeq will be incubated at the India Institute of Science (IISc) innovation – Bangalore. The company specialises in biomarker development, precision medicine, and immunological profiling.
The IHF’s support for HealSeq’s invention is targeted at developing and validating an accurate, low-cost, easy-to-administer test that can detect Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis early and guide rapid clinical decisions to switch to second-line medicines.
HealSeq’s breakthrough is a host bio-marker-based blood test that may detect RNA signatures in TB patients as early as two weeks after treatment begins.
According to the IHF, “The prevalence of these RNA signature genes can assist clinicians in categorising patients as good, intermediate, or poor responders to treatment. Patients with DR TB who are intermediate or poor responders can be quickly switched to second line therapy.”
The test costs one-sixth of the total cost of the many tests required during the TB treatment course and is administered using a simple RT PCR kit.
“This is a milestone in the detection and treatment of DR TB since it has the potential to dramatically accelerate diagnosis and treatment while also limiting disease spread,” the IHF noted.
All TB patients are initially given standard TB treatment (first line treatment). When the TB bacteria becomes resistant to the conventional treatment, second-line medicines, such as medications used to treat DR-TB, are utilised.
The efficacy of the treatment is realised in all TB cases about 4 months after treatment commencement, resulting in late diagnosis of DR TB. Late diagnosis is one of the primary causes of the rise in the prevalence of DR TB illness.
According to the India TB Report 2021, Central TB Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the disease kills over 0.4 million people in India alone each year, and we bear a quarter of the world’s cases.