Kit developed to help make Down’s Syndrome tests easier, more accurate
The Nation/Asia News Network / 08:55 PM September 20, 2015
In order to cut down on the rate of Down’s Syndrome among newborns in Thailand, the Department of Medical Science (DMSC) and its allies are developing a test kit that will no longer require a cell culture. The new kit is expected to be ready in six months.
DMSC director-general Dr. Apichai Mongkol has recently explained that this project was a collaboration between the DMSC, the Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine at Ramathibodi Hospital and the National Health Security Office (NHSO). As the test kit uses imported equipment and special liquids, it needs adjustment so it can yield more precise results for Thais, hence it will take another six months to be ready, he said.
Once ready, the kits will be tested on a sample population of 400 to 500 people, he said.
Each year, there are some 45,000 pregnant women requiring a Down’s Syndrome test, but since Thailand has limited personnel who can read and translate the results of a cell culture, only up to 25,000 tests are conducted yearly, Apichat explained.
Therefore, this new, easier-to-use kit would require women, who are five to 12 weeks pregnant, to undergo amnio-centesis or amniotic fluid test that can be conducted using the imported liquids, he said. This system would cut the test result waiting time down to two days from three to four weeks required for a cell culture.
Also results would be accurate and enable patients to undergo further tests and make a decision or plan accordingly.
Since some parents still doubt the accuracy of the old system, they are hesitant in deciding whether to end a pregnancy, he said. However, he said, this new test would be easier and provide faster results, so parents to be should be better able to make decisions.
Once the kit is ready, the NHSO will evaluate its value and consider making it part of the national healthcare package, Apichai said.
Apart from reducing the rate of Down’s Syndrome, DMSC also aims to cut down on the rate of thalassaemia and hyperthyroidism, Apichai said.
A thalassaemia test can be conducted on couples before they have children in order reduce the risk, while a hyperthyroidism test can be conducted on newborns so they can undergo treatment in their first month in order to prevent any permanent brain damage. He said the department managed to reduce congenital disability cases from 500 per year to merely 100.