New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center Using Whole-Genome Sequencing to Combat Spread and Improvement Treatment of Tuberculosis

ALBANY, NY (September 16, 2016 - The New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center recently became the first and only state public health laboratory in the nation to perform whole-genome sequencingas a diagnostic test for Tuberculosis (TB),in some casesreducing the time to assess antimicrobial susceptibility by weeks.

"The recent advancement in testing at the Wadsworth Center is a game changer in the fight against drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "New York is fortunate to have a state public health laboratory that leads the nation in developing revolutionary methods to identify and combat emerging public health threats."

Whole-genome sequencing is a single laboratory testthat reveals the complete DNA make-up of theTBorganism causing thepatient's infection, allowing the Department to rapidly detect, characterize and ultimately prevent the spread of drug-resistant TB among New York's general population.

Conventional testing methods of TB specimens take upwards of 28 days from time of positive test results to generate results for susceptibility to first-line medications and approximately 41 days to obtain the results for susceptibility for second-line treatments. In contrast, by using whole-genome sequencing, the Wadsworth Center was able to report a reliable susceptibility profile for first and second-line treatment 11 days after receipt of the sample,and this timeline will continue to decrease with anticipated improvements to the technology.

TB infection can be spread for up to 2-3 weeks after beginning medication. By determining the correct treatment and getting patients started on it quickly, the risk for transmission of the disease is reduced greatly.

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