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India sets up first gene screening lab in South Asia

DNIS News Network -- India is initiating screening of genetic errors that lead to mental retardation, autism learning disabilities, dyslexia and even death.

According to Dr M. Ramachandran, the director for new-born screening in the American state of Georgia, around four crore Indians suffer from mental retardation and every year around 2% live births suffer mental retardation. While a considerable percentage develop autism, learning disabilities, autism and dyslexia, many infants die of sudden death syndrome. This gene screening facility is targeted at detecting inborn errors of metabolism or IEM, which lead to neonatal birth defects.

This facility will be initiated in Dr Lal’s Path Lab in Mumbai. The first of it’s kind in South Asia, the lab will have neonatal screening technology like Tandem Mass Spectrometry. This screening test ensures treatment at an early stage, enabling children to lead a healthy life.

The managing director of the lab, Dr Arvind Lal explains that IEMs are genetic defects in enzymes and proteins, used for metabolising proteins, fats and carbohydrates, which result in toxic accumulation in the system. If left untreated, these can cause irreversible neuro-damage.