Updated on 21 December 2012
The next happening thing in healthcare - Genetic diagnostics
Thanks to the Human Genome Project, scientists now have a set of tools that can be readily used to understand the complexity of diseases and their variability in human beings. These tools assist scientists in refining risk prediction and also in evaluating the response to therapies with greater precision. The project has in turn fuelled the diagnostic industry, which was not perceived to be as exciting as therapeutics but is now one-of-the-fastest growing segments of healthcare.
From being a method to identify whether a patient has a specific disease, diagnostics are now being used to support clinical development of drugs, predict diseases before appearance of symptoms, forecast the progress of a disorder and identify patients who are most likely to respond (or not respond) to specific treatments.
Solutions from the APAC
Currently, healthcare applies a trial-and-error method where patients and their physicians are faced with uncertainty of outcome. In the patient's case, it often entails greater physical and financial burden. Advances in genomics enable scientists to examine the DNA of an individual and predict if the person is susceptible to a particular disease or whether a particular medicine will suit him or her.
As a result, companies have started investing in pharmacogenomics, which offers advantages such as eliminates the unpredictable nature of drug development, to bring new products to the market.
Indian start-up Xcode Lifesciences has come up with the In DNA technology to provide solutions to lifestyle-related diseases, such as coronary diseases, diabetes and obesity. A person can order the test online. Following which a saliva kit is shipped to the customer. This kit, which is non-invasive and safe to use, is used by the customer to ship a smaple of his saliva back to the testing lab. DNA extracted from the saliva is used to determine the allelic information of the individual using high-throughput genotyping techniques.
Talking about the new kit that the company launched this year, Dr Saleem Mohammad, CEO and co-founder of Xcode, said, "Xcode's preventive program, Lifelong Wellness, is a unique offering that combines DNA and healthy living. Lifelong Wellness aims to empower individuals with knowledge about their genes and pointers to modify their lifestyle, so they can lead a healthy life." The genetic assessment provided by Xcode gives insights into two things: health risk, especially to diabetes, obesity, CVDs and stroke, of a person and his or her metabolic profile or how the person metabolizes fats and carbohydrates. "Using this information, our team prepares nutrition and fitness plan that is personalized because we provide recommendations that are best suited to your genetic makeup," he said.