Cepheid, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and FIND launched the Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra test for diagnosing tuberculosis and resistance to the antibiotic rifampicin. The test is the second generation of Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF test, which was launched in 2010. The Ultra was redesigned to increase analytical sensitivity more than tenfold and to improve the detection of mutations associated with rifampin resistance, FIND said.
The World Health Organization recommends the new test be used as an alternative to the older test in all settings, but a WHO expert group also noted that because of the increased sensitivity, use of the Ultra can result in higher numbers of false positives, compared to Expert MTB/RIF. As a result, the group said more discussion is needed on implementing the new test and balancing increased sensitivity with decreased specificity in different settings.
The Ultra was developed by Cepheid in collaboration with Rutgers. Additional support was provided by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and FIND. The governments of Australia, the Netherlands, and the UK also provided funding.