TB Strain Bank

New diagnostics tests for tuberculosis (TB) suitable for low-income settings are urgently needed. This includes tests for the detection of drug resistance which are of ever increasing importance as national TB programs address the challenges of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively-drug resistant TB (XDR-TB). In parallel with efforts to develop new tools, more and more disease endemic countries are building capacity to adopt technically challenging, traditional methods for detecting drug resistance. Traditional and new methods will each require implementation of rigorous internal and external quality management practices, to ensure quality results.

An important obstacle to the development of new diagnostic tests for TB and the achievement of quality test results is the lack of access to reference materials. The WHO/TDR TB Strain Bank addresses this need by providing academic and commercial test developers and laboratory managers with a geographically diverse collection of 236 TB isolates comprising all possible combinations of phenotypic resistance to the 4 major anti-tuberculosis drugs i.e. isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol with accompanying streptomycin and accompanying detailed genotypic profiling for each strain. Nine laboratories (1) generously contributed strains from their own collections. Together strains originated from 31 countries are included in the WHO/TDR bank.

The strain bank is intended to:

  • Promote the development of novel technologies for drug susceptibility testing (DST) appropriate for use in disease endemic countries;
  • Facilitate the laboratory evaluation of new (and existing) DST methods;
  • Provide reference materials to support quality control and quality assessment programs for mycobacteria identification and drug susceptibility methods around the world
  • Facilitate research that contributes to our basic understanding of global TB epidemiology and evolutionary TB biology

If you are interested in ordering strains, you can download detailed instructions and conditions in the information strain bank, as well as catalogue of strains

You can also download the request form PDF or Word

For additional information please contact InfoSpecimen@who.int