Hyderabad: The Department of Genetics of Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) bagged the Union government’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) prestigious project for launching a state-of-the-art genetics research and diagnostics facility on its campus.
The genetics wing is among the four centres in India under the National Inherited Diseases Administration Kendra Network (NIDAN) initiative, which is supported by DBT, Ministry of Science and Technology. It will focus on congenital and hereditary genetic diseases, which are fast becoming a significant health burden not only in Telangana, but also across the country.
According to NIMS doctors, the facility will play a crucial role in extending quality and affordable genetic diagnostic tests to poor patients, in addition to being a hub for conducting counselling services, training and outreach programmes.
The DBT, which is funding close to Rs 1.6 crore to develop the state-of-the-art genetics diagnostic and research facility, will also provide recurring financial assistance for three years, before NIMS figures out a way to turn the initiative into a self-sustainable model. The new research and diagnostics facility is expected to be thrown open to public in four to five months.
“The procurement of high-end diagnostic equipment is over and recruitment of trained manpower is expected to be completed in a month or two. Once ready, we can conduct all major genetic diagnostics tests at the new facility,” Dr. Prajnya Ranganath, head of Department of Genetics, NIMS, said.
With a very large population and high birth rate, and consanguineous marriages favoured in many communities, prevalence of genetic disorders is pretty high in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. NIMS’ Genetics Department, set up in collaboration with the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), is the only government facility in Telangana that offers high-end genetics health services at affordable rates.
Every year, the department receives between 6,000 patients and 7,000 patients from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. To conduct vital genetics diagnostic tests, the department used to send patients’ samples to CDFD for testing. With the new facility coming up, authorities can now offer high-end diagnostics tests within the campus, which will cut down time and cost.
The NIDAN facility will also provide counselling, prenatal testing and diagnosis, management, and multidisciplinary care in government hospitals wherein the influx of patients is more. The new genetics facility will also produce skilled clinicians in human genetics and undertake screening of pregnant women and newborns for inherited genetic diseases in hospitals at aspirational districts. The genetics facility will also impart training in Biochemical Genetics, Cytogenetics, Molecular Genetics, and Clinical Genetics to clinicians from government hospitals.