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New Biotech Strategy to use genomic tools to convert hospitals for prediction & prevention of diseases

Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai
Monday, April 14, 2014, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The National Biotechnology Development Strategy-2014, issued recently by the department of biotechnology (DBT), aims to convert 50 percent of hospitals currently engaged in treatment of human diseases to hospitals for prediction and prevention of diseases using genomic tools.

Concurrently, it aims to engage in genetic epidemiological research for increased understanding and identification of genomic factors in human health and disease, and their interactions with life-style and/ or environmental factors. It is envisioned to provide all available genetic screening tests to general public in each city.

To accomplish these goals, the Strategy proposes to take genomics from research laboratories to clinics by increasing the use of genomic information in disease prognosis, diagnosis, prediction and making appropriate choice of drug. Besides, the DBT will introduce pharmacogenomics in patient treatment as an early application. Pharmacogenomics is an active research field wherein drug choice and dosage is optimized on the basis of patients’ genotype in order to attain maximum efficacy with minimum adverse effects.

The Strategy also proposes to provide more widespread genetic testing services for diseases with chromosomal aberrations or disorders where underlying culprits are highly penetrant genes. For this, it proposes to establish one dedicated centre in each city for providing genetic testing services at affordable prices.

The Strategy proposes to introduce training programs in Clinical Genetics in close collaboration with Medical Council of India (MCI) & National Board of Examinations (NBE) for physician scientists and geneticists as a well-trained workforce is required for better implementation of genetic principles in clinical studies and enhancing genomics research.   It will also provide genomic education to clinicians and health-care professionals and conduct workshops for medical and paramedical personnel at all levels.

Besides, the Strategy proposes to sett up clinical bioinformatics units in strategic locations across the country and dedicated centres to conduct association studies and correlative biology research.

The Strategy further proposes to create genomics awareness in general public and healthcare providers as in the light of public awareness, shared decision should be taken by doctors and patients. Clinicians should discuss with patients after interpreting results of genetic tests with sensitivity, accordingly take decision and monitor the outcome carefully. The Strategy will also encourage participatory genetic research by involving families and communities and inter-ministerial efforts will be coordinated towards conducting public outreach programs aimed at educating people regarding genetic basis of diseases.


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