Genomic medicine accessible in India if technology is sourced locally- The New Indian Express

by Express News Service

BENGALURU: Genomic medicine is touted as the future of medicine but it can only become more accessible and cheaper if efforts are made to localize the technology further, say experts.

Speaking at the press conference – Future of Genomic Medicine at Bangalore Tech Summit 2022, the panelists explained that genomic medicine has the potential to play a huge role in developing rare diseases, genetic disorders and transforming the healthcare system.

Prof. Siddharth Jhunjhunwala, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Science, said, In the current scenario, structural support is being given to startups in terms of technology. However, more support from the government is needed in education, research and development.

Advances in technology will only be beneficial if they are more localized. Currently, most resources are imported which is unaffordable to most people. Jhunjhunwala opined that if research is done on more common diseases (affecting more people, such as diabetes) it could also help make it more accessible and economical.

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Dr. Vijay Chandru, panelist and commissioner of the Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System, explained how gene therapy can help treat rare diseases like Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), thalassemia and cancer. Only, the limitations were high costs involved in manufacturing and production, gene therapy is labor intensive and currently approved therapies are not accessible to all.

Treatment of rare diseases using gene therapy can be afforded by few people in the society due to high cost, said Professor Jhunjhunwala. Gene therapy has endless possibilities for genomic medicine, in addition to assessing risk and understanding the effects and outcomes of diseases or various diseases.

Dr. Vishal Rao, US, Director, Head Neck Surgical Oncology and Robotic Surgery and Dean, Center of Academics and Research, HCG Cancer Center said the country has no dearth of potential in technology, infrastructure, talent and resources. Only incremental efforts need to be taken to ensure that the entire technology is ‘made’ in India.

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