Thalassemia is the most common genetic blood disorder that is prevalent in India. It is a blood disorder, which destroys critical red blood cells. There are various degrees of severity associated with this disorder—major and minor.
Thalassemia major causes a reduction in the production of functional haemoglobin in the body. This causes a shortage of red blood cells and low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream. Patients suffering from the disorder require a lifelong blood transfusion, iron chelation therapies and other treatment. There is still no cure other than a bone marrow transplant. As this has to be done in early childhood, it is not a workable cure as yet for adults.
It has been estimated that about 100,000 people lose their lives in the country before the age of 20, on account of this disease. Each year, about 10,000 children are born with Thalassemia major. This causes a significant economic burden on the country due to rising health care and drug expenses.
India is blessed with a lot of talented and ethical medical researchers and doctors who can engage in gene therapy research. However, there are barely any clinical studies in this direction.
The government of India needs to take steps to change that. The government medical research institutes and hospitals need to start developing low-cost gene therapies for thalassaemia. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has constituted a task force (“Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine”) to encourage translational research.
Meanwhile, considering the need of the hour, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has joined hands with The Wishing Factory (TWF) to refurbish the blood transfusion centres.
India has a lot of potentials. A country is so efficient that can launch the world’s cheapest space equipment, can surely figure out a treatment for a fatal disease that is so expensive to treat.
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The CSR Journal Team