Genetic screening key to mitigating risk factors of non-communicable diseases

WITH prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among Malaysians always being a serious issue, it is worthwhile noticing that genetic screening can provide strategic insights in mitigating health risk factors.

These are among the topics covered by Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Bhd in a workshop organised by the Malaysian Muslim Doctors Organisation (PERDIM) which is the national organisation of Muslim doctors with over 1,000 members.

PERDIM doctors are now well-informed to introduce the benefits of genetic screening to their patients.

Genetic screening is a process whereby a person’s DNA is analysed to identify genetic risks for diseases or disorders such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes as well as to identify traits that may affect health, wellness and fitness. 

In addition, it can also screen for adverse reactions towards certain types of prescription drugs and their effectiveness.

“Genetic screening for diseases can be a first defence in preventing NCDs. It provides a window of knowledge on the genetic risks of individuals,” explained Malaysian Genomics’ CEO Sasha Nordin at the workshop which was part of a two-day ‘Advanced Nutrigenomics Intensive Course’, a collaboration between PERDIM and Malaysian Genomics.

“Through genetic screening tests, doctors can understand which genetic risks to focus on to actively prevent or delay NCDs from occurring. From the test results, a doctor could recommend more precise follow-up tests to monitor the individual’s health, and may also prescribe a personalised health management plan,” Sasha further pointed out.

Genetic screening tests are predictive – not diagnostic – unlike laboratory and imaging tests for finding specific evidence of a disease. Such tests serve to screen for the potential risk of developing the disease in a person’s lifetime. A combination of both types of tests will provide a more comprehensive picture of a person’s health.

In instances where long-term prescription drug use is unavoidable, genetic screening for drug response can mitigate the risk of severe adverse drug reactions (ADRs) which could be fatal for some. 

“Through genetic screening, doctors can approach long-term drug use with increased precision for better effectiveness and patient outcomes,” reckoned Sasha.

“Personalised, preventive care begins with genetics. With actionable knowledge, doctors are empowered to deliver effective lifelong care to the families and communities they serve,” noted PERDIM’s vice president Dr Wan Julia Sham Ariffin. 

“Some of this actionable knowledge includes using genetic screening to enable personalised and precise treatment of cellular repair mechanisms in the body as well as nutrigenomics which is the use of foods, supplements and lifestyle interventions to influence how genes express themselves.”

By : Cheah Chor Sooi – FOCUS MALAYSIA

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