Existing high-priority target product profiles (TPPs) of the World Health Organization (WHO) establish important needs for tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic development. Building on this earlier work, this guidance series aims to provide study guidance for performing accuracy studies of novel diagnostic products that may meet the 4 high-priority WHO TPPs and thus enable adequate evidence generation to inform a WHO evidence review process. Diagnostic accuracy studies represent a fundamental step in the validation of all tests. Unfortunately, such studies often have limitations in design, execution, and reporting, leading to low certainty of the evidence about true test performance, which can delay or impede policy and scale-up decisions.
This introductory paper outlines the following: (1) the purpose of this series of papers on study guidance; (2) WHO evidence needs and process for the development of policy guidelines for new TB diagnostic tests; and (3) study design considerations, ie, general diagnostic study considerations, intended use of test and role in the clinical pathway, choice of population and setting, index-test specific issues, suitable reference standard and comparators, study flow and specimen issues, and finally key issues beyond accuracy that should be considered. The other 4 papers in this series will provide more detailed guidance for each of the 4 WHO high-priority TPPs.
By increasing the clarity around the clinical evaluation needs for tests that have the potential to meet the TPP specifications, we hope to support harmonized evidence generation and enable the WHO review process towards meeting the WHO End TB Strategy targets for reducing the incidence and mortality associated with TB.