With a need for surveillance and cost effective strategies to prevent emergence and spread of anti-microbial resistance, the National Centre for Microbial Resource (NCMR) at Pune-based National Centre of Cell Sciences (NCCS) will collect and preserve microbes across the country.
Dr Yogesh Shouche, senior scientist at NCCS told The Indian Express that the NCMR will function as a bio-repository for resistant microbes/infective agents (bacteria and fungi) and to carry out collection, storage, maintenance, preservation and characterization of these microbes across the country.
Antibiotics have been the mainstay of modern medicine for the past seven decades and have efficiently protected humans and animals. But, now microbes are gaining resistance against antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become a major threat to public health, said Dr Shouche.
Realising the gravity of the situation and the need for surveillance and design of containment and mitigation strategies to prevent emergence and spread of AMR in the country, the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, has initiated a major mission programme on antimicrobial resistance, which includes development of indigenous and cost-effective therapies.
Morbidity due to drug-resistant pathogens has been increasing every year and causes at least 50,000 deaths every year across the world (WHO report, 2014). The issue of AMR in India is alarming with about 58,000 neonatal deaths every year due to sepsis by resistant pathogens.
“AMR is rampant due to poor sanitation conditions, relaxed regulation on waste discharge from drug manufacturers and indiscriminate usage of antibiotics in humans, livestock and poultry. There is a lack of large-scale study on AMR in India, but available research has shown the presence of many multiple drug-resistant bacteria and genes in the country. Many studies have reported high load of drug resistance in isolates from clinical poultry, fish, meat and milk samples, environmental samples including ‘Sewage’,” Dr Shouche told The Indian Express.
“The availability of such repository will be valuable in more than one ways,” Dr Shouche said, adding that they will be involved in the validation of the AMR status of the isolates, develop new antibiotics and antifungals, conduct studies on the effectiveness of new drugs and understand the emergence and spread of AMR not only in clinical set up but also in poultry and environment.
NCMR is functioning as the International Depository Authority under the Budapest Treaty and is also designated as Repository by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change under the Biodiversity Act, 2002. “Currently, we are also developing guidelines for the acceptance and distribution of these microbes. Once these are approved by the DBT, it will start accepting AMR isolates,” Dr Shouche added.