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News Article

Diagnosis Prevents Antimicrobial Resistance

By Miriam Bello | Thu, 09/09/2021 - 15:58

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an unattended global health issue that claims millions of lives per year. Multinational diagnosis companies are using technology to prevent the spread of these deadly pathogens.

The development of antibiotics transformed medicine, changed health provision and life expectancy. But an excess use of antibiotics can lead to the development of antimicrobial resistance either by a modification of the ecology of the body’s bacterial flora or by propelling evolutionary changes in microorganisms that confer them resistance to antimicrobial drugs. Bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi can become resistant to common treatments and continue growing to the point when infectious diseases become impossible to treat.

Globally, about 700,000 people die each year from medication resistant tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and staph infections. Hector Barillas, Director General at bioMérieux, explained that resistance also doubles the possibility of developing a healthcare complication and increases the possibility of death due to the limitation of antibiotic treatments. According to Barillas, antimicrobial resistance could claim 10 million lives a year by 2050, a higher death toll than cancer.

In Mexico, antimicrobial resistance is a public health concern as it represents a barrier to combat common infections but companies like bioMerieux are developing support programs to address this global issue. bioMerieux’s tools for syndromic diagnoses have changed the game for doctors and patients. Suria González, Infectionist of bioMérieux explained that bioMerieux PCR Multiplex for syndromic diagnosis has been useful when dealing with viral infections that are not diagnosed by viral cultures, such as meningitis. “bioMérieux PCR panels give an answer readily. They identify with exactitude the microorganism causing the problem, which is difficult to determine.”

bioMerieux’s gastrointestinal panels can work for viral or parasitic infections. “Sepsis is another complex and urgent problem to solve. Patients could lose three days while waiting for results but these PCR test can do it in within an hour,” said González. Fast diagnosis eliminates the need to apply extra antibiotics and prevents their abuse, decreasing the risk of creating microbial resistant pathogens. This also leads to shorter treatments that are more targeted and have less sequelae.

“Pneumonia is one of the most common complications that cause sepsis,” she said, “and bioMérieux panel helps reduce nosocomial infections that have a high mortality type pneumonia.” These infections are more common in intensive units or hospitalization areas. bioMérieux pneumonia panel simplifies culture development time in the lab. “The new panel detects two different microorganisms, when others detect only one. If the other is not isolated, we cannot correctly orient ourselves to give a more targeted therapy,” said Gonzaléz. These panels give a broad spectrum to give doctors information to avoid the use of unnecessary antibiotics that cause shock.

Technology has played a significant role in achieving these testing capacities, said David Godínez, Medical Advisor of bioMérieux. “Technology determines the operation and limitations of the microbiology laboratory that provides the results. Its use is to be encouraged. Microbiology laboratories are essential, they support the medical parties to make correct and assertive decisions.” To deliver exact results, laboratories should prioritize: “automation to take advantage of technology; process integration through the use of automation; and people and team work,” explained Julian Jiménez, Lab Specialist of bioMérieux.

Automation has transformed microbiology laboratories, argued Jiménez. “Antibiotic susceptibility tests are one concrete example. Many aspects of manual processes can go wrong. For example, while collecting a sample it can be contaminated or collected incorrectly, which delays and hinders the process.” Jiménez said that sometimes there multiple pathogens present in samples and it is difficult to recognize what causes the infection.

“The laboratory integrates technological solutions to offer the results in real time and help doctors make a timely decision. We are committed to improving the laboratory-clinical part relationship,” said Jiménez. bioMérieux’s goal is to understand the path each sample takes to improve their approach to the patient. “One of our solutions provides an integrating vision of the results, which also saves time in the very repetitive culture process.” Repetitive processes lead to tired operators, which leads to human errors. “After the whole day of culture isolation, those at the laboratory are tired. Automation helps them save time and allows them to focus on interpreting results.”

bioMérieux integration of technology also helps with cost reduction. “The less control in antibiotic consumption, the more resistance, which sharply increases costs for the entire health system,” explained Gonzaléz. “It is not the same to use a maximum of three antibiotics per patient than three whole packages. Additionally, overuse of antibiotics can lead to kidney or liver failure.” This also leads to more infections because the more resistant the microorganisms are in intensive units, the more in-hospital pneumonia cases increase, he explained.

Gonzaléz urged action to tackle antimicrobial resistance, especially after the pandemic. “With the pandemic, doctors had to follow different protocols due to the reconfiguration of the ICUs. Antibiotics were also abused in several cases of pneumonia and the consequences can be significant.”

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst