MGRC Officially Launches Genetic Screening Services

MGRC unveils comprehensive range of new genetic screening services for inherited and infectious diseases

Kuala Lumpur, 28 June 2011 – Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (MGRC), one of Asia’s leading genome sequencing and analysis service providers, today launched a range of comprehensive genetic screening services, as well as an all-in-one test for a multitude of infectious diseases.

Genetic screening examines a person’s genome for known variation markers, some of which are causal for diseases, while others carry a lifetime risk for contracting a genetic illness. Aberrations in a human genome give rise to different types of diseases, such as cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Down’s syndrome. Other genetic variations may be responsible for adverse reactions to drugs.

MGRC’s new genetic screening services will be made available through hospitals and other primary care facilities around Malaysia. Healthcare professionals will be able to use these services for the advance identification of predispositions to inherited diseases, corresponding risk factors, and drugs that have side effects in certain individuals. With assistance from qualified geneticists, this will allow physicians and doctors to better understand and advise on the management of their patient’s health. In addition, physicians and doctors will be able to prescribe suitable and more effective medication at optimal dosage based on their patient’s genetic make-up. Access to information from the results of a genetic screening test can help to reduce the threat posed by both genetic and infectious diseases, through early detection and treatment.

MGRC’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Stephen Rudd, said, “Our tests are designed to correlate to both inherited and infectious diseases that commonly afflict Asians, making our tests more relevant to the Malaysian population. Predictive medicine is practised through the application of genetic screening on patients, which can indicate very early whether a patient has genes that predispose him or her to a disease. Genomics is rapidly evolving healthcare in the direction of personalised medicine.”

Apart from tests for genetic diseases, MGRC will soon offer a single, definitive test for a multitude of infectious diseases, streamlining the rapid identification and treatment of disease-causing microbes in humans. For example, current diagnostic tests for dengue are reliable only approximately five days after symptoms are first observed and once anti-bodies are present in the blood. MGRC’s rapid, genetic marker-based test, which does not depend upon the presence of antibodies, will enable earlier detection so that the correct treatment can be commenced.

MGRC’s Genetic Screening Services Explained

MGRC offers a wide range of genetic screening services for adults and children, from focused genotyping services to whole genome, exome and transcriptome sequencing. Genotyping is a cost-effective approach for the systematic survey of previously characterised human genetic variations, and testing for infectious diseases, whereas genome screening is more suited to discovery and characterisation of rare variants and novel mutations.

MGRC’s new genetic screening services for healthcare professionals include the following:
Genome Sequencing: This allows the examination of genetic differences at the genome level through the sequencing of the whole genome, exome or transcriptome. These approaches provide views of the human genome at various levels of detail, which enable the subsequent survey of different types of human genetic variations.

Basic to Extensive Genotyping: This involves the examination of an individual’s genome for known markers that reveal genetic variations within DNA and predispositions to genetic disorders and inherited diseases. This extensive service also checks for possible adverse reactions to drugs.

Perinatal Genotyping: This involves the examination of newborns and young children up to five years old for inherited diseases and genetic disorders, with particular focus on health and disease traits affecting infants. Parents can opt to get their children tested to understand better their genetic predispositions.

Pre-conception Genetic Tests: These involve checks for inherited diseases and genetic disorders for couples to determine which traits they may pass on to their unborn child. These services can be obtained for both parents and their newborn.

Infectious Diseases Test: This enables the detection of hundreds of infectious and communicable diseases in a single test. The test includes common diseases affecting the Asian region, such as dengue, tuberculosis, H1N1 viruses, hepatitis, intestinal infections and malaria, among many others.

MGRC’s Managing Director, Robert Hercus, said, “Genomics is rapidly changing our approach to healthcare. It has already helped medical researchers uncover and understand many of the genetic causes of diseases. Currently, many diseases are conventionally diagnosed through a patient’s symptoms and blood tests that measure the biochemical content of their blood sample at a specific point in time. Genetic screening looks much deeper, at the gene level, to provide valuable in-depth information about the presence of genetic variations that cause inherited diseases, the presence of genes from infectious disease agents, and even detailed information on potential adverse reactions to different drugs. In this way, genetic screening provides a more comprehensive understanding of a patient’s state of health.”

MGRC hosted a launch of its new services to the nation’s medical practitioners. People interested in genetic screening services can ask their doctors for further information.

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