Indian Scientists Achieve Impressive 82% Reduction in Newborn Sepsis Deaths With Radical Innovation

Bangalore based scientists have achieved a breakthrough innovation that is saving the lives of newborn babies with sepsis. Their experiment has brought down deaths by 82%.

An innovation by Bangalore based scientists is saving the lives of new born babies. Their diagnostic technology is able to detect neonatal sepsis faster, with greater accuracy. In an experiment conducted at JIPMER, Puduchery, they proved their effectiveness by achieving 82% drop in neonatal deaths.

Neonatal sepsis is notorious for its mortality rate. The death rate is as high as 18-36%. But what is more shocking is that most of these deaths happen not because of the inability of health professionals to treat the illness but because of their inability to treat it on time. The conventional method of identifying sepsis is through a blood culture test. For some lucky ones, the results come in 36 hours but, in many cases, it takes 72 long hours for the results to arrive.

While waiting for the reports to come, the doctors are forced to give medicines based on empirical knowledge. And many times, by the time the results arrive, the infection has gone out of hand. This time lapse is costing so many young lives.

The team of scientists at the launch of the innovative technology that is saving lives of newborn babies
The team of scientists at the launch of the innovative technology that is saving lives of newborn babies

But thankfully, it seems like there is a solution now. A team of scientists from a start-up in Bangalore have been successful in fixing the problem. They have slashed the 72 hours to 24 hours – helping doctors begin their treatment faster and save lives in the process.

This breakthrough innovation comes from a team of scientists from a diagnosis start-up called XCyton, based in Bangalore. XCyton is among the few companies in India that has been able to make an impactful medical innovation like this.

The principal scientist and founder of Xcyton, Dr. Ravi Kumar Banda, along with his team, successfully discovered this methodology of detecting the pathogens causing sepsis, known as Syndrome Evaluation System (SES).

There was a drastic 82% reduction in deaths
There was a drastic 82% reduction in deaths

To evaluate the effectiveness of SES, the doctors at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, conducted a controlled experiment. They randomly divided 368 newborn babies suffering from sepsis into two groups. One group of babies were treated as per the conventional blood culture method, while the other group was treated as per XCyton’s SES test. This study was carried out over a period of eight months and the results were striking. While 33 babies died in the blood culture group, 6 babies died in the SES group.

There was a drastic 82% reduction in deaths in the group treated based on SES results. Doctors were able to start the treatment faster and tame the illness before it took control over the patient.

Dr. Ravi Kumar, Principal Scientist at XCyton Diagnostics
Dr. Ravi Kumar, Principal Scientist at XCyton Diagnostics

Apart from being a lifesaving technology, it reduced ICU stays, duration of ventilation, number of drugs given to maintain blood pressure, and the number of antibiotics used per baby. This study was published in the prestigious Indian Journal of Paediatrics.

XCyton also did a pilot in Aravind Eye Hospital in Coimbatore, where the company tested the effectiveness of SES on samples of patients with severe eye infections. With timely identification of the type of infection, there was a tremendous effect on patient recovery. There was a 50% reduction in the number of surgeries and the number of hospital days of patients.

The cost of the technology is higher than the conventional method, which is one of the main challenges that XCyton is facing in reaching more people. Dr. Ravi Kumar Banda says, “If there is a technology that can save lives, we should not have people dying due to lack of access to it. We need to make SES available extensively across the country, not just for neonatal needs but all cases of sepsis, and impact a million lives.”

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About the author: Ranjini Sivaswamy is a freelance writer and one of the first team members of The Better India. She comes from a mass communication background and is currently a consultant with IIM Bangalore.

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