If you have any genetic problem or want to know about the “faulty gene” that might affect you in the future, you can know about it right away and take measures to prevent the disease, thanks to the genetic laboratory that is likely to come into operation at Bir Hospital soon.
The country’s oldest hospital is planning to establish this state-of-the-art genetic laboratory that will help detect genetic faults that cause chronic illness and look into the effectiveness of medications carried out during the course of treatment.
Dr Ganesh Gurung, vice-chancellor of National Academy of Medical Sciences, said the Ministry of Health and Population has pledged Rs 10 million to buy equipment for the laboratory. “We will begin the procedure within next one month,” Dr Gurung said.
To this end, the hospital has already trained three professionals, including a geneticist and two medical lab technologists specialising in genetics. Dr Gurung said they had sent the two medical lab technologists to Sri Lanka to study the course.
Dr Bishnu Dutta Paudel, Oncology professor at NAMS, said the laboratory can predict the chances of cancer occurrence in one’s healthy body. “For those affected with cancer, we can carry out the genetic analysis of the cancer cells and know if the cells will respond to treatment or will exacerbate despite treatment,” he said, adding, “If people are sure that treatment will not work they need not waste their money.”
The primary genetic analysis to look into the possibility of disease was popularised by actress and director Angelina Jolie after she underwent a double mastectomy, a surgical removal of breasts.
“My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” Jolie wrote in her article in the New York Times in 2013. “Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.” She wrote that she underwent the procedure “to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could.”
Dr Paudel said since there is prevalence of many life-threatening diseases the genetic analysis could save many lives and also advance the treatment system in the country.