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Rajasthan to gain genetic testing capabilities

Until now, Rajasthan, India’s largest state by area, has had no capacity to test genetic samples. This has left a vital area of healthcare unaccounted for.

This is soon to change with the announcement that J K Lon Hospital is to start up a facility capable of both genetic and molecular testing. The facility itself will not be housed within the hospital. Instead, a partnership has been formed between the hospital and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Delhi, where the samples will be sent following collection

Genetic testing offers the state the capacity for far more efficient healthcare. For example, through genetic testing, various inherited disorders can be uncovered which can provide doctors with the information to provide more targeted individual healthcare. This may involve the prescription of medications which are far more appropriate to a patient’s condition once more information is available, or the allocation of therapy to suit a patient’s  particular requirements.

A common disorder uncovered through genetic testing is muscular dystrophy says J K Lon Hospital superintendent Dr Ashok Gupta. “There are drugs available for some genetic disorders like muscular dystrophy. Also, enzyme therapy and bone marrow transplant are available…which is very helpful for children diagnosed with gene disorders,” He adds. The capacity to more accurately target specific conditions could greatly improve the healthcare quality of the state.

It is now widely documented that there are a number of genes found at a much higher frequency in the Indian population that cause a predisposition to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is, however, a disease that is manageable with correct treatment and a number of necessary lifestyle changes. For example, regular exercise along with a reduction in sugar consumption can be hugely beneficial to managing the symptoms of the condition.

The capacity for genetic testing allows for the early discovery of the disease in a patient. This is a critical factor to treatment, as management in the condition is far easier in its early stages before any severe damage has been caused. India is being spoken of as the world capital for diabetes, with a potential 50 million people suffering from the condition. Without proper management and treatment the disease can progress to cause an increased risk of cardiovascular, renal, neural and visual disorders.

Cooperation between states may provide a way of addressing holes in the healthcare system in poorer, rural states. However, shipping blood samples between states is both time consuming, as well as costly. Though less than ideal, the new found deal will add to the capacity for treatment of the hospital in Rajasthan, providing an increase in the quality of healthcare for the area.

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