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Choosing The Right Genomics Lab: Taking A Step Towards Genetic Testing

The most important aspect before selecting a laboratory is to check for its accreditationby institutions such as the College of American Pathologists (CAP)

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Undergoing a genetic test to understand one’s risk of cancer can be a daunting task. To begin with, the test is quite new and adding to that it is for a disease as severe as cancer with a possibility that it might be hereditary. Therefore, it is essential to find out the best lab to get tested.

A genetic test is a test that examines your DNA for the presence of gene mutations that may be the cause of a particular disease. One example is a genetic test that looks for mutations that increase the likelihood of developing cancer at some point of time in life. There are a number of laboratories in India and in the USA where this analysis can be done. In India, one of the leading laboratories for genetic testing is the Strand Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine (Strand Center), Bangalore.

The most important aspect before selecting a laboratory is to check for its accreditationby institutions such as the College of American Pathologists (CAP). CAP is a well-known organization that inspects diagnostic laboratories for compliance with best practices and stringent maintenance of records. Attaining CAP accreditation is neither simple nor easy.Various processes and checkpoints are put in place by the scientists to ensure that once a tissue sample is collected, it is handled and analyzed carefully. There are a total number of 203 checkpoints implemented to make sure that there are no errors with clinical samples.

However, just having an accreditation and going through all those criteria once still does not mean that a laboratory is the best. It is important to maintain stringent records of all the activities and review these processes, every 6 months.

A CAP accreditation is not a once-in-a-lifetime event either. Once a laboratory has won this medal, it must maintain compliance, year-on-year, to keep the medal as well. They must ensure that they continue to operate with the same level of excellence and high quality that granted them the accreditation in the first place.

In addition to CAP, a few laboratoriesare accredited by NABL as well. NABL is an Indian regulatory authority that plays a similar role to that of CAP. NABL conducts regular audits of diagnostic laboratories and provides accreditation for best practices and quality assurance.

Keeping in mind these basic criteria, the selection of your genetic laboratory is extremely easy. The best labs will have the facilities, scientists as well the quality of work that speaks for itself.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Dr Vijay Chandru

Vijay Chandru (PhD MIT 1982), Chairman and Managing Director, Strand Life Sciences, has three decades of experience straddling various geographies, academic environments and industries. He has co-authored a book in computational logic, over seventy peer-reviewed research papers and has edited several volumes to his credit. He was elected a Fellow of the Indian Academies of Sciences and Engineering and is also an Adjunct Faculty at the Centre for Biosystems Science and Engineering (BSSE) at IISc in Bangalore.

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