Dr. V. Anil Kumar, Professor of Clinical Microbiology, AIMS, Kochi, visited the Amrita School of Biotechnology on February 22, 2017, and gave a talk on “Rapid Molecular Diagnostics for Infection - a New Frontier?”, focusing on the molecular techniques used in clinical pathology.

Rapid detection of infectious agents can alter current practices in infection control, therapeutic management, and clinical decision-making and ultimately reduce over-prescription of antimicrobials and associated adverse outcomes. Though cultures are still considered the gold standard of diagnosis, retrieving viable microorganisms to determine the species and their antimicrobial susceptibility require incubation times of up to 96 hours. Some limitations of cultures are: they can only detect cultivable micro organisms, have low sensitivity for slow growing, intra cellular and fastidious microorganisms and in patients pre-treated with antimicrobials.

During the course of his talk he mentioned several different techniques that are commonly used by clinical microbiologists such as plating, multiplex PCR, BACTEC, etc. He, however, did stress the fact that they are time consuming and generate false positives making these techniques not very reliable. He also spoke of how Mycobacterium tuberculosis testing is both expensive and time consuming and raised the issue of how newer experiments and techniques need to be developed to substitute for those available at present. Dr. Kumar also expressed an opinion that certain molecular techniques should be expensive in order to prevent their misuse. He raised the importance of having personnel capable of data interpretation in order to ensure that an accurate a diagnosis can be made.

He captivated the audience with his razor sharp wit and offered an interesting clinical perspective to students and staff alike. His talk was greatly appreciated by all.

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