Health Minister announces plans of Genomic grid for India-specific cancer research

The grid to be formed will be in line with the National Cancer Tissue Biobank set up at the Indian Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

Published - September 08, 2019 03:25 am IST - Coimbatore

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Aswini Kumar Choubey

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Aswini Kumar Choubey

In a move to take cancer research to the next level and make treatment viable for people of different economic classes, the government has plans to set up a National Genomic Grid, which will study genomic data of cancer patients from India, said Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Aswini Kumar Choubey here on Saturday.

The grid to be formed will be in line with the National Cancer Tissue Biobank (NCTB) set up at the Indian Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and will collect samples from cancer patients to study genomic factors influencing cancer and identifying the right treatment modalities for the Indian population.

“The NCTB is functioning in close association with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). NCTB, which has the capacity to stock 50,000 genomic samples from cancer patients, already has samples from 3,000 patients. The genomic samples will help researches to have India-specific studies on cancers. The government plans to set up the National Genomic Grid in the same style with pan-India collection centres by bringing all cancer treatment institutions on board.

“The initiative will be taken forward based on the standard operating procedures set by IIT Madras and guidance from ICMR. The grid will have four parts, with the country divided into east, west, north and south,” said Mr. Choubey on the sidelines of the launch of the campaign War Against Cancer at Sri Ramakrishna Hospital, Coimbatore.

According to the Minister, the first set of 350 genomic data of stomach and breast cancer patients developed from the 3,000 samples at NCTB will be released by the end of October.

He said that the government was on a mission to achieve the target of one doctor for every 1,000 people, a standard ratio set by the WHO, by 2022, against the current ratio of 1/1,400. Also, the government plans to increased the number of MBBS seats in the country from 42,000 to one lakh.

Replying to a question on widespread protests on the constitution of the National Medical Commission, the Minister said that the NMC Act will set new standards in medical education and healthcare through the introduction of community health provider and National Exit Test (NEXT), which will examine the capability of MBBS graduates before they are admitted to postgraduate courses or chose practising.

Stating that work on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Madurai, is expected to be completed in 2022 at a cost of ₹1,264 crore, of which ₹5 crore already released, Mr. Choubey added that the Centre will also assist the State at 60:40 ratio to upgrade four medical college hospitals.

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