US-based DNA sequencing company Illumina and French genomics company GenoScreen have entered into a partnership to support global efforts to eradicate tuberculosis (TB).

The partnership will help the countries that are most impacted by tuberculosis to expand their capabilities to effectively detect and combat multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

It will provide a global package that combines Illumina’s sequencing products and GenoScreen’s Deeplex Myc-TB assay.

Deeplex Myc-TB is a targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based test intended for rapid detection of anti-TB drug resistance.

In addition, the partnership will help advance the World Health Organization’s (WHO) strategy to end the global TB epidemic by 2035, said Illumina.

Illumina chief medical officer Phil Febbo said: “Through our partnership, we will enable lower-income countries to confront the pervasive threat of TB and work toward eliminating it.

“The Covid-19 pandemic response led to expanded NGS capacity around the world, so now institutions have the platforms needed to support testing for TB drug resistance and improve survival for patients with TB, the leading infectious disease killer prior to Covid.”

According to the WHO, TB is the first worldwide bacterial infectious killer that accounts for more than 1.5 million deaths each year, and MDR-TB is a global public health emergency.

The standard culture-based testing methods would require up to two months, and conventional molecular assays are limited in identifying drug resistance.

The GenoScreen Deeplex Myc-TB assay, when used together with Illumina NGS platforms, will facilitate rapid detection of extensive drug resistance profiles and TB strain types.

GenoScreen developed the Deeplex Myc-TB assay and has been producing it since 2019.

The assay leverages a culture-free approach to identify TB mycobacteria and more than 100 non-TB mycobacterial species and to predict resistance to 15 antibiotics.

It directly uses primary respiratory samples and gives results within 24 to 48 hours.

Furthermore, the NGS testing will benefit national TB programmes worldwide by providing critical surveillance data about resistance to different anti-TB drugs.

GenoScreen CEO André Tordeux said: “As a world specialist in TB genomic solutions, we envision this partnership with Illumina as an accelerator for the global deployment of our Deeplex Myc-TB assay, especially for countries with the highest needs.”