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At MedGenome, we are deeply focused on continuous innovation, and publishing our findings for the larger benefit of the genetic testing community. Read through our publications for details of our latest work.

Background

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X‐linked recessive neuromuscular disorder characterised by progressive irreversible muscle weakness, primarily of the skeletal and the cardiac muscles. DMD is characterised by mutations in the dystrophin gene, resulting in the absence or sparse quantities of dystrophin protein. A precise and timely molecular detection of DMD mutations encourages interventions such as carrier genetic counselling and in undertaking therapeutic measures for the DMD patients.

Results

In this study, we developed a 2.1 Mb custom DMD gene panel that spans the entire DMD gene, including the exons and introns. The panel also includes the probes against 80 additional genes known to be mutated in other muscular dystrophies. This custom DMD gene panel was used to identify single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and large deletions with precise breakpoints in 77 samples that included 24 DMD patients and their matrilineage across four generations. We used this panel to evaluate the inheritance pattern of DMD mutations in maternal subjects representing 24 DMD patients.

Conclusion

Here we report our observations on the inheritance pattern of DMD gene mutations in matrilineage samples across four generations. Additionally, our data suggest that the DMD gene panel designed by us can be routinely used as a single genetic test to identify all DMD gene variants in DMD patients and the carrier mothers.

We report clinical profile of hundred and nine patients with SARS CoV-2 infection, and whole genome sequences (WGS) of seven virus isolates from the first reported cases in India, with various international travel histories. Comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease were frequently associated with severity of the disease. WBC and neutrophil counts showed an increase, while lymphocyte counts decreased in patients with severe infection suggesting a possible neutrophil mediated organ damage, while immune activity may be diminished with decrease in lymphocytes leading to disease severity. Increase in SGOT, SGPT and blood urea suggests the functional deficiencies of liver, heart, and kidney in patients who succumbed to the disease when compared to the group of recovered patients. The WGS analysis showed that these isolates were classified into two clades: I/A3i, and A2a (four according to GISAID: O, L, GR, and GH). Further, WGS phylogeny and travel history together indicate possible transmission from Middle East and Europe. Three S protein variants: Wuhan reference, D614G, and Y28H were identified predicted to possess different binding affinities to host ACE2.

Date: November 2, 2020

Background: To determine the carrier frequency and pathogenic variants of common genetic disorders in the north Indian population by using next generation sequencing (NGS).

Methods: After pre-test counselling, 200 unrelated individuals (including 88 couples) were screened for pathogenic variants in 88 genes by NGS technology. The variants were classified as per American College of Medical Genetics criteria. Pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants were subjected to thorough literature-based curation in addition to the regular filters. Variants of unknown significance were not reported. Individuals were counselled explaining the implications of the results, and cascade screening was advised when necessary.

Results: Of the 200 participants, 52 (26%) were found to be carrier of one or more disorders. Twelve individuals were identified to be carriers for congenital deafness, giving a carrier frequency of one in 17 for one of the four genes tested (SLC26A4, GJB2, TMPRSS3 and TMC1 in decreasing order). Nine individuals were observed to be carriers for cystic fibrosis, with a frequency of one in 22. Three individuals were detected to be carriers for Pompe disease (frequency one in 67). None of the 88 couples screened were found to be carriers for the same disorder. The pathogenic variants observed in many disorders (such as deafness, cystic fibrosis, Pompe disease, Canavan disease, primary hyperoxaluria, junctional epidermolysis bullosa, galactosemia, medium chain acyl CoA deficiency etc.) were different from those commonly observed in the West.

Conclusion: A higher carrier frequency for genetic deafness, cystic fibrosis and Pompe disease was unexpected, and contrary to the generally held view about their prevalence in Asian Indians. In spite of the small sample size, this study would suggest that population-based carrier screening panels for India would differ from those in the West, and need to be selected with due care. Testing should comprise the study of all the coding exons with its boundaries in the genes through NGS, as all the variants are not well characterized. Only study of entire coding regions in the genes will detect carriers with adequate efficiency, in order to reduce the burden of genetic disorders in India and other resource poor countries.

Keywords: Carrier screening, Cystic fibrosis, Hearing loss, Pompe disease, Asian Indians

Date: November 10, 2020

Background: Medical big data analytics has revolutionized the human healthcare system by introducing processes that facilitate rationale clinical decision making, predictive or prognostic modelling of the disease progression and management, disease surveillance, overall impact on public health and research. Although, the electronic medical records (EMR) system is the digital storehouse of rich medical data of a large patient cohort collected over many years, the data lack sufficient structure to be of clinical value for applying deep learning methods and advanced analytics to improve disease management at an individual patient level or for the discipline in general. Ophthatome™ captures data contained in retrospective electronic medical records between September 2012 and January 2018 to facilitate translational vision research through a knowledgebase of ophthalmic diseases.

Methods: The electronic medical records data from Narayana Nethralaya ophthalmic hospital recorded in the MS-SQL database was mapped and programmatically transferred to MySQL. The captured data was manually curated to preserve data integrity and accuracy. The data was stored in MySQL database management system for ease of visualization, advanced search functions and other knowledgebase applications.

Results: Ophthatome™ is a comprehensive and accurate knowledgebase of ophthalmic diseases containing curated clinical, treatment and imaging data of 581,466 ophthalmic subjects from the Indian population, recorded between September 2012 and January 2018. Ophthatome™ provides filters and Boolean searches with operators and modifiers that allow selection of specific cohorts covering 524 distinct ophthalmic disease types and 1800 disease sub-types across 35 different anatomical regions of the eye. The availability of longitudinal data for about 300,000 subjects provides additional opportunity to perform clinical research on disease progression and management including drug responses and management outcomes. The knowledgebase captures ophthalmic diseases in a genetically diverse population providing opportunity to study genetic and environmental factors contributing to or influencing ophthalmic diseases.

Conclusion: Ophthatome™ will accelerate clinical, genomic, pharmacogenomic and advanced translational research in ophthalmology and vision sciences.

Date: June 1, 2020

BACKGROUND Genome-wide polygenic scores (GPS) integrate information from many common DNA variants into a single number. Because rates of coronary artery disease (CAD) are substantially higher among South Asians, a GPS to identify high-risk individuals may be particularly useful in this population.
OBJECTIVES This analysis used summary statistics from a prior genome-wide association study to derive a new GPSCAD for South Asians.
METHODS This GPSCAD was validated in 7,244 South Asian UK Biobank participants and tested in 491 individuals from a case-control study in Bangladesh. Next, a static ancestry and GPSCAD reference distribution was built using wholegenome sequencing from 1,522 Indian individuals, and a framework was tested for projecting individuals onto this static ancestry and GPSCAD reference distribution using 1,800 CAD cases and 1,163 control subjects newly recruited in India.
RESULTS The GPSCAD, containing 6,630,150 common DNA variants, had an odds ratio (OR) per SD of 1.58 in South Asian UK Biobank participants and 1.60 in the Bangladeshi study (p < 0.001 for each). Next, individuals of the Indian casecontrol study were projected onto static reference distributions, observing an OR/SD of 1.66 (p < 0.001). Compared with the middle quintile, risk for CAD was most pronounced for those in the top 5% of the GPSCAD distribution—ORs of 4.16, 2.46, and 3.22 in the South Asian UK Biobank, Bangladeshi, and Indian studies, respectively (p < 0.05 for each). CONCLUSIONS The new GPSCAD has been developed and tested using 3 distinct South Asian studies, and provides a generalizable framework for ancestry-specific GPS assessment. (J Am Coll Cardiol 2020;76:703–14) © 2020 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation.

Date: April 14, 2020

KMT2B-related dystonia is characterized by childhood-onset and progressive disease course with prominent lower-limb, cervical, cranial, and laryngeal involvement [ 1 ]. Developmental delay and intellectual disability are commonly reported [ 1 , 2 ]. Here we are reporting an Indian patient with KMT2B-related dystonia who had a disease onset at the age of 19 years. Other interesting features in our patient were normal cognition, dystonic opisthotonus, and absence of oromandibular and laryngeal dystonia.

Date: March 1, 2020

We report a family with a spectrum of short stature, craniofacial dysmorphism, and digital anomalies in a father and 2 daughters, with the youngest (proband) displaying a severe phenotype. Clinically, autosomal dominant Robinow syndrome (ADRS) was diagnosed. Whole-exome sequencing identified a heterozygous pathogenic BMP2 variant in the father and his daughters. The phenotype of short stature, facial dysmorphism, and skeletal anomalies with or without cardiac anomalies related to BMP2 haploinsufficiency has some facial and digital resemblance to ADRS. Although this variant segregated in the affected members, it failed to explain the severe phenotype of the proband. A reanalysis of the girl’s raw data confirmed 2 disorders: a de novo likely pathogenic DVL1 variant implicated in ADRS and the familial BMP2 variant. A close interplay of high-throughput sequencing and deep phenotyping unraveled the complexities of the blended phenotype in the proband.

Date: June 1, 2019

Cervical cancer is a growing and serious problem world-wide in women, but more acute in developing countries especially in Indian subcontinent. The main causative agent for the disease is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The history of the cervical cancer goes back to eighteenth century as the HPV infection is reported since 1800s. Presently, the genetic structure of HPV is well defined. Several screening tests including cytology and visual based screening and high risk HPV testing are available. Also available are various clinical and commercial diagnostic tests. However due to the lack of awareness and population-based screening programs, the morbidity and mortality rate is alarmingly high. There are new emerging biomarkers including E6/E7 mRNA, p16ink4a, markers of aberrant S-phase induction, chromosomal abnormalities and miRNAs along with advanced genotyping methods. These markers have clinical significance and are helpful in disease prevention and management. Further, recent advancement in the field of metagenomics has increased the prospects of identifying newer microbes, viruses hitherto reported thus far in the context of HPV infection. Analysis of HPV cases using modern tools including genotyping using more powerful biomarkers is envisaged to enhance the prospects of early diagnosis, better prognosis, more reliable treatment and eventual management of the disease.

Date: January 9, 2020

“Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), an autosomal codominant disorder characterized by very high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, is strongly associated with premature coronary artery disease.
Molecular landscape of FH in Asian Indians is not well studied, although this ethnic group comprises a large proportion of the world population. Knowledge of mutations in these groups is useful for identifying persons affected with FH, saving their lives, and cascade screening in their relatives.”

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