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    Ray of hope for neonatal health

    “Integrated POC-based diagnosis will help reduce detection time considerably and thus translate diagnosis from bench to bedside. An efficient POC sepsis diagnostic platform could expand health care access and impact populations worldwide.” (Dr Anupam Jyoti)

    Anoushka Jain

    Sepsis is a life-threatening illness which refers to a systemic (body-wide) infection accompanied by inflammation. Newborn infants are extremely vulnerable to it, given their naïve and under-developed immune system — especially in the first four weeks of the neonatal period.

    An infant’s immune system reacts to the acquired pathogen by releasing inflammatory factors such as cytokines and free radicals. The heightened immune response mounted against the pathogen, if uncontrolled, can cause catastrophic loss of life within hours.

    Early diagnosis is thus the key to effectively manage the infection. Conventional diagnostic methods are, however, time consuming.

    Hence, in a new Clinica Chimica Acta article, researchers at Shoolini University, IIT Hyderabad and Amity University, Rajasthan, collaborated closely to map out the current point-of-care methods for improved diagnosis of neonatal sepsis and their limitations.

    Their review cracked the code and shed light on the emerging biosensing technologies that can revolutionise diagnostics in the future and help decrease mortality associated with neonatal sepsis.

    They have reviewed the latest advancements in analytical devices that enable multi-analyte detection with high sensitivity and accuracy. They also describe the limitations of the methods used at present, and why a combinatorial approach may be better.

    Speaking of why this caught their attention, lead author of the study, Dr Anupam Jyoti, says, “Developing countries like India report an increased incidence of neonatal sepsis (50–70/1000 live births) as compared to developed countries (1–5/1000 live births), with a substantial mortality rate of 11-19%. We were thus motivated to review the field of neonatal sepsis detection and propose new directions towards effective diagnosis.”

    The sensitivity of routinely used techniques is poor, with a high risk of getting false positive results without the difference between viable and non-viable pathogens in the sample.

    Advanced biosensors for rapid and sensitive diagnosis, then the sensors based on the surface plasmon resonance technique are used. Finally, as a cost-effective measure microfluidic devices and chip-based sensors analyse samples based on their flow or size.

    In addition to the above methods, hybrid biosensors will be capable of detecting multiple parameters in a short time from considerably small samples; all this at the bedside of the patient!

    Overall, the review on the modern technologies can help strengthen, and possibly replace conventional POC approaches in the future. “Integrated POC-based diagnosis will help reduce detection time considerably and thus translate diagnosis from bench to the bedside. An efficient POC sepsis diagnostic platform could expand health care access and impact populations worldwide,” remarks an excited Dr Jyoti. This is indeed a ray of hope for protecting neonatal health.

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