KOCHI: At a time when outbreaks of chikungunya, dengue and nipah diseases threaten the population in a big way, experts say that the absence of rapid diagnostic tests to identify the strain at molecular level is hampering specific treatment for the diseases early on so as to lessen the pain and save lives.
“Generally symptomatic treatment is given to viral diseases at the first level. The major constraint of this treatment is that the doctor will not be able to identify the viral load in the blood sample of the patient. Based on the current developments in molecular biology, all the advanced countries have developed molecular labs for detecting the virus at the early phase using PCR (polymerised chain reaction) Technology. It is a paradox that Kerala does not have such a diagnostic facility for detecting viral strain using molecular tools,” says Dr C. Mohan Kumar, Director, SCMS Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology Research & Development (SIBBR&D), Kochi.
With the objective to popularise PCR Technology among researchers, faculty members and scientists, SIBBR&D is organising a two-week short term training course (STTC) in Real Time PCR Technology from July 15 to 31 in association with Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. The training programme is for faculty members and researchers from life sciences and biotechnology department of colleges and universities of Kerala.
“The power of molecular research in the field of genomics became a reality with the invention of PCR technology in 1983. Though PCR induced tremendous changes in the field of health diagnostics at the global level, the prospects of PCR technology have not been used effectively at academic level in biological and life sciences department of our colleges and universities,” said Dr Mohan Kumar. “Lack of expertise and on-hand training experience are the major lacunae that we are facing for the popularisation of PCR. So the objective of this training programme is to provide on-hand training for handling the PCR tool,” he added.
“In the light of this training programme, our universities and colleges have to take necessary initiatives for popularising and utilising the PCR Technology. This training in PCR Technology especially Real Time PCR will clarify the apprehensions on virus detection and other infectious diseases and it provides more confidence to the faculty members for handling advanced tools,” said Dr Anoop Kumar Thekku-veettil, head, Molecular Biology Division, Biomedical Technology Wing, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute, Thiruvanant-hapuram, the resource person of STTC.
A total of 20 faculty members and researchers from different colleges and universities in Kerala are attending the training programme at SCMS.
Dr. Salini Bhasker, Senior Scientist and Technical Coordinator of STTC, Dr. Sethulekshmy Nair, Deputy Director, SIBBR&D and other scientists Dr. Harish M, Dr. Swapna David, Dr. Neetha John, Ms. Malavika BH and Ms. Divyaa Sreekumar are the resource persons for the programme. At the valedictory function on July 31, Dr G.M Nair , Chairman, Kerala Biotechnology Board, Government of Kerala, will release the proceedings of STTC.