DNA sequencing can reveal antibiotic resistance in tuberculosis (TB) infections faster than standard tests.

The causative agent of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, grows so slowly in culture that assessing its susceptibility to antibiotics can take one to two months, with each drug requiring its own test. A team led by Sharon Peacock at the University of Cambridge, UK, used whole-genome sequencing to investigate a case of tuberculosis that had shown resistance to many antibiotics. Within days of sampling and culturing the patient's mucus, sequencing revealed co-infection with two strains of tuberculosis, a condition that had not been detected with standard tests. The team examined genes known to influence the effectiveness of 39 antibiotics. The results indicated that the strains were resistant to nine drugs that had already been identified by a reference laboratory, as well as to five others not yet assessed.

N. Engl. J. Med. 369, 290–292 (2013)