New Delhi, Sep 6 : Antibiotics have enabled us to combat disease and save millions of lives for generations, but bacteria are evolving resistance to the majority of today’s available antibiotics.
With 10 million people expected to die globally by 2050 because of drug-resistant superbugs, new rapid diagnostic tests are urgently needed to reduce misuse and overuse of antibiotics. The role of rapid tests in the fight against AMR was the focus of an expert roundtable hosted on Friday by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council and Nesta Challenges.
In association with India’s National Council of Science Museums and Science Museum Group, London, the event was held to mark the opening of a landmark new exhibition 'Superbugs: The End of Antibiotics?’ at Delhi’s National Science Center. Global experts from the diagnostic industry, clinicians, professors and leading inventors of the rapid diagnostic tests took part in the session to explore how these rapid tests would fit in to clinical pathways in India.
Since the Chennai declaration in 2013, India has mounted a huge effort to address antibiotic resistance. Reflective of this, BIRAC is supporting several Indian start-ups and SMEs competing in the Longitude Prize – a global competition to accelerate the development of a rapid, accurate, point-of-care diagnostic test to safeguard the future of antibiotics.
Innovators competing in the Prize presented their diagnostic tests to the seminar attendees – which included representatives from Department of Biotechnology.
Dr Sundeep Sarin, Advisor Scientist-G, Department of Biotechnology, said, ''It is not acceptable that patients still have to wait for a minimum of 24 hours to identify the right antibiotic to kill an infection. This is why the Department of Biotechnology and BIRAC have been collaborating with the Longitude Prize since 2014. We are giving support to Indian inventors and test makers so that they can find solutions that will be used around the world to address antimicrobial resistance.''
Prof Till Bachmann, University of Edinburgh and Longitude Prize Judge said, “The potential of diagnostics in addressing AMR has been underestimated and undervalued. The Longitude Prize is a leading driver who has changed this. Today things are moving fast with new technologies enabling creation of a range of highly innovative tests that will allow more rational use of antibiotics. The market entry and adoption of these new diagnostics need to be supported so they reach patient as soon as possible.” (UNI)