World’s leading bank of TB strains expands
TDR’s collection of tuberculosis (TB) strains has been transferred to a collaborating organization, the Belgian Culture Collection of Microorganisms (BCCM), creating the world’s most extensive database of TB strains. This transfer provides greater access to one of the best characterized collections of TB bacteria, which is useful for researchers and diagnostic developers, particularly to understand drug resistance.
"The TDR bank is by far the most extensive and well-characterized collection of TB strains anywhere in the world today. We are proud that this resource has been entrusted to us."
Dr Leen Rigouts, manager of the BCCM/ITM public collection of mycobacterial strains
An agreement has been made between WHO/TDR and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, which has long maintained the BCCM/ITM collection of mycobacterial cultures and was TDR’s major partner in the establishment and development of the TDR TB Strain Bank 10 years ago. The integration of the strain bank into the larger BCCM not only secures funding for the foreseeable future, but also ensures that the TDR bank benefits from the best practices in biobanking. Access and pricing arrangements have been maintained as a tiered pricing system that allows small enterprises and not-for-profit institutions affordable access.
Dr Leen Rigouts, the manager of the BCCM/ITM public collection of mycobacterial strains, says, “The TDR bank is by far the most extensive and well-characterized collection of TB strains anywhere in the world today. We are proud that this resource has been entrusted to us and we will work to ensure it continues to be used by the scientific community to improve our understanding of tuberculosis and to develop new drugs and diagnostics.”
An advanced characterization of the strain bank has already begun through a collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In the past year, 190 of the 231 TB strains in the TDR-TB Strain Bank have had their entire genome sequenced. This vastly increases the usefulness of these strains in basic science, immunology and vaccine research, drug discovery and diagnostics development. The results of the sequence analysis are currently being prepared for journal publication in 2014. The sequence data will be made publicly available through an open access website immediately afterwards.
John Reeder, TDR’s Director, says “The TDR TB Strain Bank has already shown its usefulness in the development of new tools for tuberculosis control. The early validation of the GeneXpert MTB/RIF, an important tool for diagnosing drug resistant TB, was accomplished using strains from the bank. The importance of this resource will increase as the risk of drug-resistant TB grows.”
To request TB strain samples, please contact: Leen Rigouts BCCM/ITM Institute of Tropical Medicine Nationalestraat 155 B-2000 Antwerpen (map & directions) Phone: +32 (0)3 247 65 51 Fax: +32 (0)3 247 63 33 E-mail: BCCM.ITM@itg.be