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Non-invasive Techniques Developed to Check Neonatal Bilirubin Level

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Scientists at the SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata, have developed non-contact and non-invasive spectrometry-based techniques for measurement of bilirubin levels in newborns to screen for signs of jaundice, an official statement said on Wednesday.

The device through which the techniques are carried out is called AJO-Neo and has been developed by Prof. Samir K. Pal and his group at SNBNCBS, an autonomous research institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

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The operation of the device is based on non-contact and non-invasive spectrometry-based techniques for measurement of neonatal bilirubin level as an alternative of total serum bilirubin (TSB) test without limitations of other available bilirubin meters.

Careful screening of bilirubin level in newborns is mandatory as per the American Academy of Paediatrics (2004) to reduce incidents of a type of brain damage called kernicterus that can result from high levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood.

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Although invasive capillary collection of blood and the subsequent biochemical test is considered a gold standard for jaundice detection in neonates, transcutaneous bilirubin measurement using non-invasive instruments has obvious added advantages, the statement said.

The SNBNCS is also hosting one of the Technical Research Centres (TRC) funded by DST and in scientific collaboration with Nil-Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata.

According to the study conducted by the SNBNCBS team in NRS medical college, the newly developed device (AJO-Neo) is reliable in measuring bilirubin levels in preterm, and term neonates irrespective of gestational or postnatal age, sex, risk factors, feeding behavior, or skin color.

The device is found to deliver an almost instantaneous report (about 10 seconds) to the doctor concerned irrespective of the location he is.

This is a significant achievement compared to the conventional blood test method, which may take more than 4 hours to generate the report, the statement added.

The detection of neonatal blood bilirubin (Hyperbilirubinemia) faster is extremely important for therapeutic management in order to avoid kernicterus leading to neuo-psychiatry problems in neonatal subjects, the statement said.

AJO-Neo also shows several advantages compared to other similar imported devices in the market, the statement added.

Development of convenient, non-invasive diagnostics based on a deep understanding of physicochemical sciences is happening at a faster pace around the world, and the institutions focused on basic sciences such as SN Bose National Centre For Basic Sciences at Kolkata, are thus compelling partners in technology and device development, said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.

The Technology has been transferred by the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), a PSU under the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to a Vijayawada based company, M/s Zyna Medtech Private Limited.

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