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Genetic screening to play key role in deciphering underlying causes of infertility: Dr Sam Balu

Yash Ved, Mumbai
Wednesday, September 8, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Genetic screening will play an important role in deciphering the underlying causes of infertility as well as in helping couples achieve their dreams of becoming parents of a healthy child, stated Dr Sam Balu, head of genomics, Lilac Insights.

Lilac Insights has envisioned a comprehensive range of genetics testing services which would help the doctors and patients in this regard.  This includes screening tests for the couples such as fertility screening and carrier screening. Fertility screening can be used by couples who are having difficulty in conceiving a child naturally.

Dr Balu added, “Carrier screening can be offered to couples who have a positive family history of a genetic disease (such as sickle cell anemia, beta thalassemia, spinal muscular atrophy etc.) to assess the risk of having an affected child and determine the best approach to having a healthy child with respect to the genetic disorder.”

Dr Balu stated that assisted reproductive technology (ART) has evolved considerably across the world and in India. There has been additional focus on using molecular genetic testing tools to improve the pregnancy outcome for patients. This has led to an increase in tests such as sperm DNA fragmentation analysis being included in semen analysis for the male partners.

“Also newer method for sperm selection such as pICSI (physiological selected intracytoplasmic sperm injection) and Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting (MACS) are being used to determine and select good quality sperms which can be used to fertilize the oocyte in IVF cases. Post fertilization development of an embryo can be tracked using an embryoscope, which allows for time lapse imaging of the developing embryos, allowing the IVF specialist to observe which embryos have developed in a proper manner and then perform selective transfer of such embryos,” stated Dr Balu.

The major trend in IVF treatment has been the increased use of genetic screening tests for allowing selective embryo transfer, in addition to the genetic tests available for the couples undergoing IVF treatment. For IVF embryos, non-invasive chromosomal screening (NICS) is possible to determine if the embryos have the proper chromosome number.

Dr Balu added, “For couples with a family history of a genetic disorder, using a few cells biopsied from the embryo (the process does not damage the embryo) it can be determined whether or not the embryo is affected with a disease causing gene mutation. This test is known as preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic disorders (PGTM). By using PGTM not only can an embryo be selected for transfer which is not affected but also it would significantly lower the risk of inheriting a genetic disorder from one generation to the next.”

Dr Balu stated that non invasive chromosome screening which is known as the SureT test at Lilac has significant potential to change the way Aneuploidy screening is currently being done in IVF embryos. Most IVF embryos have a higher risk of being Aneuploid (having abnormal chromosome number).

Lilac Insights is India’s leading genetic diagnostic testing company presently focused in the field of reproductive and cancer genetics. Established in 2011, Lilac Insights presently has an active specialist and super-specialist doctor base of over 8,000, servicing hospitals, patients from more than 250 cities, partnering with 3,000 plus hospitals and nursing homes, which include major corporate, mother & child and cancer hospitals.

 

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