Karnataka IT-BT Minister breaks ground for new block @ Center for Human Genetics

Karnataka’s Minister of IT-BT, Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the new building block on the premises of CHG in Electronic City on August 5,2022. The proposed new building will house the facilities of the Rare Diseases Research and Training Unit and will be in a position to help more than 2500 families with rare genetic disorders.  Dr Ashwath Narayan was presented a memorandum by rare diseases treatment advocate , Dr Prasanna Shirol, that requested the state government to formulate an Orphan Drug Policy that could also become a model for the nation, to encourage development of high quality drugs to treat these diseases. The minister promised to look into the matter urgently. Dr Shirol is a co-founder and director of the Organization for Rare Diseases in India(ORDI). 

Giving an overview of the center after the groundbreaking ceremony, Dr Jayarama S Kandandale , director, CHG said the new facility, when ready, will be used to providing training to medical personnel to take up prenatal diagnostics, hands on training for lab genetics personnel, increase diagnostics tests on genetic samples ( currently outsourced mostly), provide incubation facility to innovative startups to develop low cost therapies to treat rare genetic diseases and will be used as a location to engage with the public to create awareness programmes about rare genetic disorders and encourage them to seek early diagnosis.

Associate director of CHG, Dr Meenakshi Bhat, informed that there are over 7000 rare genetic diseases afflicting human populations in the world and approximately 8 percent of the global population are affected by one of these diseases. Nearly three-fourths of patients affected by rare genetic diseases are children. Karnataka is estimated to have about 45 lakh ( 4.5 million) people affected by some form of rare genetic diseases and a third of these are primarily due to large scale consanguineous marriages between close relatives.  CHG is one of the 8 national centers of excellence to treat rare genetic disorders.

It was pointed out that an enzyme replacement therapy to treat Gaucher Disease had been developed by a startup, Pristine Organics, in collaboration with CHG and clinical trials have been conducted at Indira Gandhi Institute for Child Health. The therapy shows promise in treating some of the metabolism induced errors that lead to the disease.

The construction work for the new CHG building block is expected to start soon when various clearances are received and fund allocation is made by the state government. CHG was founded two decades ago on the recommendations of Karnataka’s Millennium Biotech Policy 2000. 

The Center for Human Genetics( CHG) , one of the country’s premier research centers on rare genetic diseases, will get a new 45,000 sq. ft building that will increase the genetic testing services significantly in a few years.

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