Training for Laboratory Technicians “Use of Xpert MTB/RIF methodologies”

From July 29 to August 2, 2013, the USAID Strengthening Tuberculoses Control in Ukraine project conducted a five-day training on the use of Xpert MTB/RIF methods. The training was organized and hosted by Project HOPE, the project’s lead subcontractor given its experience with Xpert MTB/RIF implementation.

The purpose of the training was to ensure that Ukrainian laboratory specialists have firsthand experience using the GeneXpert equipment and are able to perform the Xpert MTB/RIF test for rapid diagnosis of TB and MDR-TB. To provide participants with a real-life setting where the Xpert MTB/RIF test is used regularly, the training took place at Tajikistan’s National Reference Laboratory (NRL). The Tajik NRL has a successful record of maintaining GeneXpert equipment and running quality test procedures. Its state-of-art facility was constructed to meet all Bio-safety level 3 (BSL 3) requirements, which is needed for working with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and implementing these new diagnostic methods. The Tajik NRL is also well-equipped for on-site laboratory training.

This training is an example of the Project's ongoing support for the implementation of the GeneXpert platform in Ukraine. The GeneXpert platform is based on a real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and can be used for the diagnosis of multiple bacterial and viral diseases. The Xpert MTB/RIF system is a cartridge-based diagnostic test that operates with the GeneXpert platform. It was specially developed to detect drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum samples. It detects mutations in the rpoB gene of the bacteria, which appear in in 99.5% of drug-resistant cases. The test detects rifampicin resistance with 99.1% sensitivity and excludes resistance with 100% specificity. Data from field studies in different settings showed that the use of this test increased TB case findings by 30% when used as in addition to smear microscopy.

The use of GeneXpert allows a reduction in time needed for MTB species identification and drug resistance to rifampicin to several hours.