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ICMR seeks proposals for manufacture of antimicrobial resistance diagnostics kits

The Indian Council of Medical Research has sought from pharmaceutical research firms and developers for manufacturing diagnostics kits for antimicrobial resistance (AMR), especially for primary and acute care healthcare settings.

AMR is one of the major public health priorities in India, and reliable and quality validated rapid-diagnostics at multi-tiered healthcare facilities are lacking.

Scientists said that indigenously developed rapid diagnostics are urgently needed to fill this diagnostic gap and to contain AMR in country.

“ICMR’s taskforce is seeking applications on diagnostics for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as AMR is one of the biggest public health concerns in India. The need is for rapid diagnostic kits to enable us with the early detection of pathogen. Further, the antimicrobial susceptibility testing can equip healthcare professionals to understand the type of infection affecting the patient, analyse its scale and provide appropriate treatment in a timely manner. But such reliable and quality validated rapid-diagnostics kits are lacking in India. There’s a strong requirement to fill this diagnostic gap and contain AMR in the country,” Dr Kamini Walia, scientist at the division of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR, said.

“Most of the time for detection of pathogens which are causing infections like respiratory tract infections, typhoid, sepsis, neonatal sepsis, acute febrile illnesses and Urinary tract infections are dependent upon cultures (blood & urine). So, culture usually takes about 24 hours and another 24 hours for conducting antimicrobial susceptibility testing. So, the turnaround time is more than 48 hours and syndromic management. Because TAT is so long, the patients‘ health condition gets worsen and treatment usually happens based on the symptoms,” Dr Walia said.

According to Lancet Journal, AMR has directly caused 1.27 million deaths worldwide in 2019. As per reports, antibiotic-resistant neonatal infections alone are responsible for the deaths of nearly 60,000 newborns each year in India.

The test should address the priority areas/pathogens such as Carbapenem resistant bacteria, fluoroquinolone-resistant salmonella typhi, penicillin non-susceptible streptococcus pneumoniae etc.

“We need tests kits which can quickly tell us that particular infection has a viral or bacterial infection. The diagnostic kits that should be innovative, indigenous, feasible and ready-to-use for the Indian healthcare settings,” said ICMR scientists, adding that India has a very high burden of infections caused due to AMR.

Meanwhile, drug resistance hospital acquired infections are responsible for 30-50% of mortality in India, but this data is very selective.

While India imports most of this point of care testing kits, the cost is too high. “For example, an antibiotic strip costs around ₹200, blood culture strips cost ₹500 and good testing kits imported from western countries cost around ₹800. We need affordable solutions so that we can reduce AMR crisis in India,” said ICMR scientist. LiveMint

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