By Apoorva Mandhani
The recent American GreetingsÂ commercialÂ titled Not Alone, features a couple struggling to get pregnant. Theyre seen battling with the negative pregnancy tests, anxiety-inducing doctor appointments, and the seemingly futile task of ovulation tracking. Amidst this, a friend notices the couples struggle and offers them a card which read, I cant know what youre feeling but Im here for you. In it, the womans friend had written, Sarah, youre not alone. Love you, Alyce. The commercial not just functions as a poignant reminder of how painful and overwhelming the journey to parenthood can be for couples struggling with infertility, but also highlights the isolation that may accompany the grind as a by-product of the societal stigma attached to it. It is, however, a technology that is now emerging as a savior for several couples around the globe who are battling infertility, with a promise to address the issue more efficiently and innovate consistently.
A fighting chance for a baby
AccordingÂ to reports of Challenges in Infertility Management (CIIM) Summit, nearly 15Â percent of the Indian population suffers from some form of infertility. Research, in fact, indicates that the country has witnessed a 20 to 30 percent rise in infertility cases in past five years. A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) has also found that one in every four couples in developing countries is affected by infertility. Besides, family genes can be very influential. Several genetic disorders pass on to children through their parents or grandparents. While carriers may not suffer from this disorder and live a healthy life, the risk of having an affected child is as high as 25 percent if both partners are carriers. A study by IGENOMIX, which isÂ aÂ pioneer in reproductiveÂ genetics, shows that out of 138 non-consanguineous couples 6 percent had a high-risk of transmitting genetic disorders to their offspring. This number is as high as 17 percent in the case of consanguineous couples.
Mr. Francisco RodrÃguez, General Manager at IGENOMIX Middle East & India explains that instances of infertility are at a consistent rise because of lifestyle changes and increase in the average age of having the first baby. He highlights the severity of the claim by recollecting a proposition made during a conference which claimed that in the future, humans will not conceive naturally, the process will be completely assisted. With the aforestated statistics in hand, the assertion doesnt seem very far-fetched. In such a scenario, it is imperative toÂ educate the masses as well as clinicians, in order to equip them with a legitimate fighting chance for having a baby.
IGENOMIX: Insights and Approaches
When IGENOMIX, which is a SpainÂ basedÂ companyÂ withÂ eighteen years of experience, forayed into the Indian market, the first thing it noticed was the lack of awareness amongst not just the common people but also the clinicians. It also noticed the lack of genetic counseling, which isÂ crucial to enable parents to make an informed choice about the processes involved. It has since called for a greater participation from the Government in maintaining the quality of fertility clinics. Besides, it also took it upon itself to conduct workshops and genetic counseling sessions, handing out brochures that educate parents about the available alternatives in a manner suited to their understanding. Taking recourse to doctors and physicians has been its strategy to tackle a market which is laden with myths and rumors regarding infertility, obstetrics, and gynecology. To this end, it has cut down on all mediators and has given direct access to lab directors and technicians for the counseling and tech support.
The entry of IGENOMIX in India has, therefore, led to the introduction of a more organized approach to genetic testing services. Further, with the utilization of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), IGENOMIX strives to reduce the costs and increase the efficiency and accuracy of tests such as Whole Exome Sequencing. It has also opened the Indian market to a host of new technologies. For instance, IGENOMIX introduced, in 2015, a non-invasive prenatal genetic screening test-NACEÂ®- in India. The technique is scientifically stated to be a potential alternative to other conventional prenatal genetic screening techniques employed for the detection of chromosomal abnormalities. While most conventional techniques are either inaccurate or invasive in nature, NACEÂ® is reported to be completely harmless for both the mother and the baby. IGENOMIX is, thus, constantly striving to reduce not just the financial burden on the parents, but also the number of tests and procedures that the parents might be subjected to, thereby addressing the anxiety that would-be parents go through.
Addressing anxieties through efficiency
The IGENOMIX India armÂ claims toÂ have done business worth $916,000 in the Financial Year 2015-16 and claims that the business is now growing at a rate of 45 percent. The statistics here need to be viewed as a symbolic representation of the increased, albeit gradual, acknowledgment that infertility is just a medical condition and can be cured and couples can conceive a healthy baby with advanced reproductive genetics. The assurance placed by the Indian public could be attributed to the experience that IGENOMIX carries with itself, having established a worldwide presence in more than 50 countries. Moreover, with holistic coverage of genetic needs, with tests incorporated at the pre-conception phase, pre- implantation as well as pre-natal phase, it takes upon itself a share of the concerns that a couple might face at every step of the process.
Moreover, whatÂ is commendable is IGENOMIXsÂ ability to accept andÂ thrive on the knowledge of the dynamism of the field, actively investing 15 percent of its profit in R&D, and, thereby, striving to provide the best and most efficient services to its clients. It also strives hard to maintain the quality in all its laboratories around the world, with bi-yearly internal quality analysis. Such information culminates into the confidence that the common man places into the technology and assistance offered by IGENOMIX. It has effectively taken upon itself the role of the friend that the article initially refers to, and offers more than just emotional support. It feeds you with all that is required to overcome the hardships and the stigma that inadvertently creeps in with the knowledge of being infertile.
Featured Image Credits:Â Maxpixel
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