Mumbai, Aug 4 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday inaugurated the first-ever Genome Sequencing Laboratory in Mumbai and a Spinraza Therapy Centre for children in BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation-run hospitals, officials said here.
In his remarks on the occasion, Thackeray said that the facility shall handle 400 samples simultaneously, and the results would be available within four hours - which will prove to be a boon for Covid-19 suspected patients in hotspots or congested areas.
He said it was very critical to have a virus testing lab in Mumbai to avoid delays in getting the test reports, which often led to fatalities in the past.
"We are currently fighting a war with a hidden enemy like coronavirus. The new GSL will enable detect and treat the Covid-19 virus or its mutants, and even other contagious diseased speedily," Thackeray pointed out.
In order to fight the virus, it is imperative to study its genetics and the coronavirus has shown that the longer it takes to identify the virus types, the more difficult it is to understand its effects and take steps to combat it, he said.
The GSL facility will be run at the BMC's Kasturba Hospital by the staff of the BYL Nair Charitable Hospital as part of the latter's Centenary Year, falling on September 4, 2021.
Nair Hospital Dean Dr Ramesh Bharmal said that the GSL will prove extremely useful, and the data analysed here especially pertaining to genetic research, would help in tackling not only the current Covid-19 pandemic but also other future epidemics.
Mayor Kishori Pednekar, Municipal Commissioner I.S. Chahal, Public Health Committee Chairperson Rajul Patel, Shashank Joshi, Sanjay Oak and others were also present on the occasion.
The GSF was one of the recommendations of the State Task Force for Covid-19 to tackle the pandemic and to detect and treat the genetic mutations in the virus that have been experienced in recent months.
The entire cost of the equipment and the operating expenses have been raised through donations by a US-company, ATE Chandra Foundation and the T.M. Nair Medical College Global Alumni Association.
A civic official explained that the next-generation genome sequencing is a method of characterisation of pathogens and a large number of samples can be processed in a relatively short period at high speed.
The technology is used to determine the order of the nucleotides in entire genomes or targeted regions of the DNA or RNA which helps in understanding the differences between two strains of the Virus, thereby identifying the mutants, he said.