The NIMR-MMRC tuberculosis (TB) laboratory is a fully equipped state-of-the-art laboratory. Apart from standard TB-diagnostic procedures like standard microscopy after Ziehl-Neelsen staining and fluorescence microscopy as well as solid (Löwenstein–Jensen) and liquid (BACTEC MGIT 960) culture, the diagnostic spectrum is completed by PCR-techniques (Accu-probe, Line probe assays, GeneXpert MTB/RIF®) but also detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb)-antigen (Capilia) for detection and confirmation of M.tb-species in culture. As goldstandard we perform DST in liquid culture (BACTEC MGIT 960) using the SIRE and PZA kit. The use of rapid methods such as Hain GenoType MTBDRplus and GeneXpert plays a crucial role for quick detection of M.tb and resistance to rifampicin and isoniazid directly in sputum of TB-suspects. Currently are implementing new procedures in the lab like EBA (colony count).
Staff and Training: MMRC TB lab team consists of the lab manager (MSc. Gabriel Rojas Ponce) lab scientists (Bariki Mtafya, Daniel Adon Mapamba) , lab technologist (Linah Bwononi) lab technician (Godlove Chaula, Jane Haule, Revina Haule) and lab assistant (Johnisius Msigwa). All staff is trained and working according to the principles of Good clinical and laboratory practice (GCLP) as well as to the biosafety requirements. Likewise, continuing training is an important aspect to preserve and develop the knowledge and the performance of the TB laboratory staff.
On the other hand, MMRC TB lab provides its knowledge and competency to the community, too, by training of laboratory staff from health facilities in Mbeya town and Mbeya rural. This training is focused in the preparation of smears, staining methods and microscopy following the World health organization (WHO)'s recommendation. Besides, the theoretical information about culture and rapid tests procedures are part of this training.
Research: Since the effective control of TB is based on the immediate detection of M. Tb, followed by the prompt implementation of adequate anti-tuberculous therapy, the TB lab (as part of the TB-Department) has interest in the evaluation of the performance and feasibility of new and rapid diagnostic methods and new treatment regimens. The lab has a track record for evaluation of new diagnostics such as LAM in urine, tr-TB-DNA, Genotype MTBDRplus and Xpert MTB/RIF-assay in clinical trials. Likewise, the NIMR-MMRC TB Lab is part of the REMox TB trial for evaluation of moxifloxacine in a shortened standard TB- treatment regimen and also wants to develop to an EBA-facility to evaluate the bactericidal activity of new drugs to improve the treatment of TB.