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Genome Foundation plans to set up genome testing labs in rural areas across India

Gireesh P K, Hyderabad
Monday, June 13, 2011, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Hyderabad-based Genome Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Dr Lalji Singh, is looking forward to set up genome testing labs in rural areas across the country.

The foundation, which has genome testing labs at Kalwari in the Jaunpur district of UP and Kolar in Karnataka, will establish its central facility in Hyderabad and has submitted a proposal of Rs. 11 crore to the Department of Science and Technology (DST). It hopes that the government will approve its proposal in a month or two and is planning to begin works after a few months. As per the plans, the facility will be fully operational in three years. The Andhra Pradesh state government has already allotted 4.3 acres of land in Hyderabad to set up the facility. Once the main facility is ready it will train the local people, who are being recruited to manage the rural labs, there. At present it is giving training in its Kolar facility, which is located in the campus of Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Kolar.

Commenting on the decision to set up genome testing labs in rural areas, Dr. Lalji Singh, told Pharmabiz, “In the rural areas incidences of genetic disorders are very high and even the government does not have an accurate data on this. If prenatal diagnostic services are available in rural areas, it can help in detecting defects and can prevent it by creating awareness. Thalassemia was controlled in the Middle East by creating awareness among the public.”

The labs will provide services such as testing of genetic diseases, diagnostic services and blood-related pathological services. It is planning to replicate genome testing labs all over the country simultaneously with the setting up of central facility. It has also submitted proposals to the Chattisgarh and West Bengal state governments to set up genome testing labs. The labs will charge a reasonable price from the patients in order to recover the expenditure. It has also plans to set up centres in urban areas as it can be a source of revenue for the foundation.

Dr Lalji Singh added the future medicine will be based on genetic signature. The foundation will carry out researches to develop innovative diagnostic techniques. It will set up genome testing labs wherever there are problems. The foundation has already carried out epidemiological studies in 30 villages covering 20000 people by door-to-door survey, recording their family history, economic status, food habits, height, weight, blood pressure, sugar level, etc in Jaunpur. It is in the process of analyzing the data of the study, which was funded by DST.


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