Mumbai gets its first genome sequencing lab

Image for representative purposes only.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday inaugurated Mumbai’s first next-generation genome sequencing (NGS) laboratory at the civic-run Nair Hospital.

Mr. Thackeray dedicated the unit to the public and launched another project to provide Spinraza treatment to people with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), as part of the hospital’s centenary celebrations. He also released Rage Against The Dying Of The Light, a book authored by Dr. Shishir Srivastav, an alumnus of the hospital.

NGS is a method of characterisation of pathogens. This technology is used to determine the order of nucleotides in genomes or targeted regions of RNA or DNA. It helps in understanding differences between two strains of the virus, thereby identifying mutants. Its speciality is that a large number of samples can be processed in a short time at high speed.

Mr. Thackeray said, “In the current pandemic, this test has many benefits, especially in hotspots, and in unique clinical presentations. Identification of mutants and variants in the virus can be established, enabling public health policy decisions.”

The equipment has been donated by Illumina, U.S., through Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), and ATE Chandra Foundation, and facilitated by Nair hospital alumnus Dr. Mehul Mehta, a retinal surgeon at Harvard Medical School and CEO of ASG. Illumina has donated two genome sequencing 9 Nextgen 2000 units, NextSeq reagents, a rapid bioinformatics analysis platform and four years of servicing worth ₹6.4 crores. This is part of Illumina’s broader philanthropic drive to provide access to the technology across the world.

Spinraza therapy

Nair hospital said the California-based NGO, Direct Relief, is providing the new drug Nusinersen (Spinraza) for treatment of SMA under the Spinraza Individual Patient Humanitarian Access Program. An independent, international Medical Expert Committee of SMA specialists has selected 17 most eligible candidates for Spinraza.

The drug will be imported by August for administering it to patients. Seven doses are given in the first year of the treatment, followed by three doses every year after, for the rest of the patient’s life, the hospital said.

“All injections will be administered by the intrathecal route. At present, a single dose of injection of Spinraza costs ₹87 lakh. The total annual cost of the therapy for one patient is nearly ₹6 crore in the first year and nearly ₹3.2 crore in subsequent years. Once selected, the patient will receive this therapy lifelong,” the hospital added.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 6:41:54 PM |

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