The Department of Transfusion Medicine at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) has acquired a fully automated Individual Donor Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing facility (ID-NAT), a molecular technique that will improve blood safety by significantly narrowing the window period of transfusion-transmitted infections such as HIV, HBV, and HCV.
The new facility will be inaugurated by SCTIMST president K.M. Chandrasekhar on Friday and the services will be available from the same day.
Unsafe blood transfusions endangering patient safety have been a matter of serious concern in recent times and the government has been focussing on improving blood safety. Acquisition of advanced blood testing facilities in public sector institutions has been a priority, as Kerala alone has reported some 160-odd cases of transfusion-transmitted HIV cases between 2009 and 2016.
ID-NAT technology is the next generation advancement in blood safety. It detects HIV, HBV, and HCV infections in blood much earlier than ELISA, the current mode of testing, thus significantly reducing the window period during which an infection might not show up in tests.
A molecular technique, this method detects viral DNA rather than antigens or antibodies and is highly specific and sensitive. ID-NAT can detect HIV in 4.7 days as against an Elisa test that gives results in 15 days.
Deploying the technique can thus improve blood safety and reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs) in patients with inherited blood disorders such as thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia as well as cancer patients, who require frequent blood transfusions and are at higher risk.