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Genome Sequencing: Aid in Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Treatment [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 25, 2017 10:03 AM EDT

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) as an important public health concern. The disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, was easily curable and preventable in the early part of the century but recently, drug-resistant strains have appeared making the disease harder to combat. Genome sequencing of these strains may just be the solution researchers are looking for.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is making the global attempt to eradicate the disease very difficult. For every five new cases of the disease, there is one that is resistant to at least one major anti-tuberculosis drug. There is also a chance that some of these cases are resistant to two or more first-line drugs used to fight tuberculosis, the News Medical reported.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis can happen if treatment is mismanaged. Some point to reasons such as drugs are of poor quality, drugs are not available, patients are prescribed the wrong treatment or just patients just don't finish the whole course of antibiotic treatment.

While new antibiotics that combat drug-resistant strains, genome sequencing these strains are a seen as a more effective solution. The process developed by researchers from Oxford and Birmingham can speed up the the diagnosis as to what kind of strain is affecting the patient thereby expedite treatment and recovery. The chances of the disease spreading are greatly limited, the BBC reported.

Genome sequencing can identify the order of the DNA in the drug-resistant strains. Data can be interpreted from the sequenced DNA in order to understand why the disease mutate and avoid the most powerful drugs.

The WHO have different classifications of the resistance to drugs. Mono-resistance refers to resistance to one anti-TB drug while poly-resistance is characterized to more than one anti-TB drug. Other types include multi-drug resistance, extensive drug resistance and rifampicin resistance.

 The WHO hopes to add more to the 49 million lives saved by TB treatment since 2000 and hopes that they can eradicate the disease by 2025.

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