Bio – Bank for Drug Resistant Microbes

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  • India’s battle against “superbugs” has just got more teeth with the Government setting up a bio-repository for resistant microbes, the first of its kind bio-bank in the country at the Pune-based National Centre for Microbial Resource (NCMR).


  • • The bank is part of the Union Science and Technology Ministry’s Mission programme on Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) initiative with the vision to develop indigenous and cost-effective therapies against the superbugs like bacteria and fungi.
  • Though India has many bio-repositories, a dedicated facility for superbugs at the NCMR is the first such unit in the country.
  • The bio-bank — a storage place for biological materials that collects, processes and distributes biospecimen catalogs, and keeps samples of material, such as urine, blood, tissue, cells, DNA, RNA and protein from humans, animals or plants to support future scientific investigations — is expected to be a boon to clinicians and researchers in the field of AMR as they could deposit or obtain samples of infective agents for scientific investigation. Currently, the National Centre for Disease Control and the Indian Council of Medical Research carry out anti-microbial resistance surveillance in various geographical regions and settings. But these two bodies only collect data and not microbe samples. The DBT has already given green signal to the NCMR to collect, preserve and characterise drug-resistant microbes in the bio-bank. The NCMR would take necessary steps to facilitate clinicians, scientists and others to handle multidrug-resistant microbe samples.
  • The DBT is also working to share the information regarding National AMR-specific Pathogen list which will be available very soon including a landscaping report on existing rapid and cost-effective diagnostic kits to identify AMR-specific pathogens, the official added.
  • • AMR is one of the major threats to human health in the 21st century, with some bacterial pathogens acquiring resistance to all clinically available antibiotics. Worldwide, infections caused by multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria are now a major cause of morbidity and mortality and have markedly enhanced healthcare costs.
  • Considering AMR as a national priority, under National Action Plan endorsed by the Government the Department of Biotechnology has initiated the fight against AMR in a mission mode envisaging needed measures.


  • • Antimicrobial resistance is resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial drug that was originally effective for treatment of infections caused by it.
  • Anti-microbial resistance has serious implications for a country like India where misuse of “last-resort” antibiotics for common health conditions is rampant. Many microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi have an exceptional capacity to survive in adverse surroundings. According to health experts, the situation in India is alarming on AMR front. A study has pointed that a intensive care units of 20 tertiary care hospitals showed that 7 per cent of critically ill patients are resistant to antibiotics.
  • Drug resistance to first-line antibiotics also results in 58,000 neonatal deaths each year.
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