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Agency to Unveil TB Test That Speeds Detection

NEW YORK -- The World Health Organization and its funding partners said they plan to roll out a $26 million program to distribute a new gene-based test that detects multidrug-resistant tuberculosis after just two days rather than the weeks or months typical of existing tests.

The WHO and UNITAID, a multinational funding partnership backing disease response in poor countries, said $26.1 million will be available to roll out the test in 16 developing countries over the next four years, starting with Lesotho and Ethiopia. The South African government is expected to endorse the test Tuesday.

The new diagnostic test -- called a line-probe assay -- is made by Germany's HainLifescience GmbH, and uses a technology known as polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, to identify genes linked with resistance to two first-line TB drugs, rifampin and isoniazid.

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