Mentors International and Co-Diagnostics have signed an agreement to lower real-time PCR assay prices in the developing world, starting with tuberculosis. Under the agreement, Co-Diagnostics will provide low-cost testing reagents and Mentors International will leverage its international connections to set up low-cost testing facilities. The two organisations plan to start with a pilot programme in Guatemala. Dr Brent C Satterfield, CEO of Co-Diagnostics, stated that in Guatemala, this could reduce the price of tuberculosis real-time PCR testing for the patient to less than 10% of what they currently pay.
Real-time PCR testing detects the genetic signature of pathogens for rapid and accurate identification. However, the high cost of test kits, machinery and the amount of training required to run the tests prevents its adoption in many countries around the world. Mentors International will provide skilled labour training to second-generation workers in its microfinancing programme.