Urgent need for rapid and accurate diagnostic test
A principal recommendation of a 2016 report on AMR is to ban doctors from prescribing antibiotics until they have carried out rapid tests to prove the infection is bacterial. The report also stresses that doctors need urgent help to temporise their use of antibiotics if AMR is to be reduced.
Notwithstanding, the AMR challenge is bigger than doctors overprescribing antibiotics. Farmers feed antibiotics to livestock and poultry, and spray them on crops to make our food supply ‘safer’. We dump antibiotics in rivers, and even paint them on the hulls of boats to prevent the build up of barnacles. However, it seems reasonable to suggest that successfully reducing doctors’ over prescribing antibiotics would represent a significant contribution to denting the burden of AMR. To do this, “We need a step change in the technology available. . . Governments of the richest countries should mandate now that, by 2020, all antibiotic prescriptions will need to be informed by up to date surveillance and a rapid diagnostic test,” urges the AMR report.
The technological ‘step change’, which the report says is essential, has already been achieved, says Roger Kornberg, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and Nobel Laureate for Chemistry. “Advanced biosensor technologyenables virtually instantaneous, extraordinarily sensitive, electronic detection of almost any biomarker (protein, nucleic acid, small molecule, etc.). With relatively modest resources it would only be a matter of months to develop a simple, affordable handheld device, which not only would tell you immediately and accurately whether a sore throat requires antibiotics or not, but would also tell you which antibiotics you require, and for how long you should take them,”says Kornberg. See videos below in which Kornberg describes how tried and tested biosensor technology could facilitate rapid and accurate diagnosis of a sore throat.