UWC team slashes cost of drug test

11 June 2015 - 02:27 By Tanya Farber

A group of scientists at the University of the Western Cape has developed a more affordable test for drug-resistance to antiretroviral therapy in people with HIV. Simon Travers, a researcher at the university's South African National Bioinformatics Institute, said: "International best practice says that everyone should be tested prior to starting treatment."But this is not the case in South Africa."He said not testing resistance to therapy reduces chances of successful treatment but that routine testing "would be too expensive given current resistance testing approaches".There are 2.4 million people in South Africa on antiretroviral therapy and the cost of the current test is R5000.Travers' team has developed a web-based application called Seq2Res which makes the analysis of the sequence data - which provides evidence of resistance - much simpler.This would bring the cost down to R500.Joe Maila, spokesman for the Department of Health, said drug resistance testing is currently only done on patients who fail first or second line antiretroviral treatment.

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