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MAGMA MICK: Enhancing TB Control Through Genomic Innovation

Updated: Mar 13


We are excited to launch a groundbreaking initiative in the Western Cape, South Africa, named the MAGMA MICK project. This venture is a collaborative effort with the University of Antwerp and Sequentia Biotech, introducing an innovative web platform designed for whole-genome sequencing (WGS). This platform stands to transform tuberculosis (TB) management and treatment — a disease responsible for 1.6 million deaths each year — by offering comprehensive capabilities to:

_ Rapidly detect resistance to all TB treatment drugs in a single test

_ Track the development of new drug resistances

_ Trace the patterns and pathways of disease transmission


MAGMA-MICK


A study published in PLOS Computational Biology highlights the capabilities of the MAGMA software in detecting genomic variants of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium responsible for TB – even in samples with low Mtb quantities or contamination by other bacteria. This analysis lets clinicians determine a patient’s Mtb strain drug resistance profile. Such critical information can be rapidly gained in clinical settings and shared with other healthcare professionals in a manner that directly impacts patient care. 


Before, the widespread adoption of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) faced significant barriers, notably the absence of bioinformatics expertise in many high TB burden countries. Yet, it’s vitally important that WGS guides TB management, especially in tackling drug-resistant TB, in order to eventually eliminate TB. 


Precision medicine in TB treatment: The MAGMA web platform

By combining WGS with artificial intelligence, the MAGMA MICK web platform is able to predict the most appropriate treatment for a given patient. Precision medicine, a significant AI trend for 2024, customises medical care to a person’s specific age, genetic makeup, risk factors, significantly enhancing patient outcomes and enabling the treatment of drug resistant strains. This aspect of the project is designed to assist clinicians in making more informed treatment decisions for each patient.  


Our role in enhancing TB control through the MAGMA platform through precision public health

Once patients have been identified with drug-resistant TB, specifically those strains that respond to the rifampicin drug, then our Epi-control platform will be used to locate drug resistance hotspots. By using contextual and other data, such as socioeconomic data and road networks, stakeholders can identify communities  at high risk of drug-resistant TB strains, and plan precision public health  interventions based on the local context. 


Through advanced visualisation dashboards, we facilitate the easy identification of transmission clusters, enabling more focused case finding and enhancing the effectiveness of screening programs. 


We are committed to contributing significantly to the eradication of TB through the MAGMA platform. We would like to invite National TB Control Programs interested in leveraging the MAGMA platform's benefits for their country to get in touch. Participating countries will receive exclusive access to the beta version of the MAGMA platform, joining a collaborative effort to ensure equitable access to whole-genome sequencing (WGS)-guided TB control and management. Our engagement emphasises our dedication to making TB eradication a tangible goal.

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