BRIDGE-MTB: Bringing Integrated Data, Genomics, and Evaluation to Mycobacteria and Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) and non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections (NTMs) are bacterial infections that create serious problems in BC. Treating TB costs the health system nearly $13 million per year, and NTMs are emerging as a new and poorly-understood threat, especially in BC’s seniors.

My previous work has shown that we can get faster and cheaper information by replacing standard TB/NTM lab tests with a single genome sequence test on the bacteria. It has also shown that comparing the mutations in the genomes of bacteria from different patients allowed us to reconstruct the timeline of an outbreak, deducing who infected whom and when.

BRIDGE-MTB is a five-year province-wide program that will expand my previous work to explore three key areas:

  1. If we use genomics to diagnose and phenotype every single mycobacterial isolate coming into our provincial lab, will it still prove better and faster than traditional laboratory methods? How will it improve our health delivery systems? How will it improve patient outcomes?
  2. By looking for shared mutations in TB and NTM genomes, can we discover where, why and how TB and NTMs are spreading in BC? Can we use this technique of genomic epidemiology to control outbreaks?
  3. The genomic data is complex. Can we design a clinical report that summarizes it in an intuitive, interpretable way for our doctors and nurses?    

BRIDGE-MTB seeks to improve BC's practice and policy on testing, treating, controlling and understanding TB and NTMs.