What is Xpert MTB/RIF molecular test?

The Xpert MTB/Rif test is a cartridge-based fully automated NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) for TB case detection and rifampicin resistance testing, suitable for use in disease-endemic countries. It purifies concentrates, amplifies (by rapid, real-time PCR) and identifies targeted nucleic acid sequences in the TB genome, and provides results from unprocessed sputum samples in less than 2 hours, with minimal hands-on technical time

  • Xpert MTB/Rif is a new fully automated diagnostic molecular test for TB care and control developed by Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), Cepheid and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with funding from NIH, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

WHO particularly recommends that the test should be used as the initial diagnosis test in individuals suspected of having MDR TB, or HIV associated TB. The test simultaneously detects TB and rifampicin drug resistance and it provides accurate results in less than two hours so that patients can be offered proper treatment on the same day.

How Xpert MTB/RIF is different from conventional methods?

Conventional diagnosis of drug resistant TB relies on bacterial culture and drug susceptibility testing, a slow and cumbersome process. During this time patients may be inappropriately treated, drug-resistant strains may continue to spread, and resistance may become amplified. In contrast, the new Xpert MTB/RIF test is rapid, fully-automated and therefore not as susceptible to human error. It provides a highly accurate diagnosis in a single test that identifies both the presence of TB and drug-resistant TB. This means people can be offered the proper treatment immediately.