New Delhi: In March, the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), a premier institution of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), licensed out its technology to Dr Lal Path Labs for genetic tests to detect a total of 27 rare genetic disorders, which affect up to 70 million people in India. These tests range from achondroplasia to Turner Syndrome among others, and this is a culmination of years of painstaking research into these domains of neurogenetic disorders. The tests are estimated to be launched within a period of a year.
An estimated 70 million Indians are affected by rare genetic disorders. In the current scenario, for a patient with a genetic disorder to be conclusively diagnosed, it takes up to seven years. And this entails a multitude of healthcare centre visits and myriad tests.
The genetic tests that are conducted abroad alone cost anywhere between Rs 4,000 to Rs 45,000. Genetic diagnosis not only brings down the time required for effective diagnosis to only 1 week but also slashes the cost by half. In addition, this enables personalisation of the treatment, thereby vastly increasing the chances of success of treatment.
A patient will now be able to ensure quick diagnosis and precise treatment of their disorder and that too at affordable rates.
IGIB’s foray into the use of genomics to identify diseases is not new. In fact, in the past, they have conducted over 14,000 genetic tests, benefiting over 4,000 patients through collaboration with over 25 major medical centres across the country. With the partnership with Dr Lal Path Labs, the outreach of these genetic tests across the length and breadth of the country is much more far-reaching, being one of the largest clinical diagnostic chains in India. This is estimated to affect many more lives. This is a public-private partnership that is worth watching out for.
These tests were developed under the Genomics and other Omics to Enable Medical Decisions (GOMED) programme, a unique outreach programme of CSIR-IGIB, and funded through a CSIR Fast-Track Translation (FTT) Grant. GOMED is a unique outreach programme to enable equitable access to genetic testing for genetic diseases. Through this programme, clinicians can tap into the expertise of IGIB in disease genomics to solve clinical problems.
The official site of GOMED will take you to a list of over 80 genes encompassing a variety of genetic diseases which can be addressed by the technology that IGIB provides.
This development is a product of CSIR’s focus on its affordable healthcare initiative. Till date, over a dozen CSIR institutes are participating in this sector under network, a public-private partnership, open source drug discovery and through in-house projects. Major thrust areas have been identified and significant developments are underway. A bridge between the labs and the industry has been built. Remarkable strides in public health will be seen soon.
The writer is an alumnus of the IGIB