Saturday, 14 July 2018

Diagnostic connectivity to combat antimicrobial resistance

The British government has entered into a partnership with FIND, a global non-profit dedicated to accelerating the development of diagnostic tests for diseases. This is to introduce digital technologies to combat the antimicrobial resistance problem.

The partnership, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, establishes a three-year project focusing on connecting data from patients’ diagnostic test results into various national antimicrobial resistance surveillance program in low- and middle-income countries. This digital information will be to help address the rising problem of drug resistant infections.

The announcement about the collaboration was made on May, 22 2018 at the 71st World Health Assembly, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland. The project is being funded from U.K. Government’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund. Here the British state will work with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND).

The aim of the project, for the connectivity for diagnostics, is to improve worldwide surveillance of antimicrobial resistance. Here FIND and partner bodies will produce alternative tools and new solutions to connect information from antimicrobial resistant-related diagnostic testing of patients and to input the analyzed information into national surveillance programs operating in low- and middle-income countries. The aim is to greatly extend the scope of existing programs so they include routine hospital and community data.

The growing menace of antibiotic resistance presents the single most significant threat faced by the global population. The urgency is with profiling patterns of resistance, so that epidemiological patterns can be assessed, and with the development of new antibiotics. The risk is very real: human populations face the very real risk of a future without antibiotics. The implications of this are that life expectancy could fall due to people dying from diseases that are readily treatable today. For example, around 700,000 deaths each year are caused by drug-resistant pathogens worldwide.

The FIND strategy is that diagnostics plays an important role in helping to minimize the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. By using appropriate diagnostic tests, medical professionals can identify disease-causing pathogens and use this information to determine the presence of drug resistance. This is only possible through comprehensive databases, assessed using big data analytics.

An example is with drug resistant tuberculosis, here FIND are helping to develop better tests for case detection & drug susceptibility testing (sputum); improved tests for detection and triage (non-sputum); and latent-to-active prediction tests. These are often alternatives to lengthy culture based methods, offering rapid microbiological alternatives aimed at improved accuracy and faster time-to-result.

According to Catharina Boehme, who is the CEO of FIND: “Diagnostics are critical to tracking and monitoring diseases and the spread of drug resistance…Connecting diagnostics to surveillance systems at various levels from local to global will allow surveillance to be strengthened in LMICs – where the burden of infectious diseases is highest but data are currently limited.”

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

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