Genetic technology is on the cusp of changing the world.
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR) -based devices may be able to edit an organism’s genetic makeup to eradicate human diseases or improve a person’s physical ability.
As these technologies continue to increase in ability and decrease in cost, an age of genomics-informed health care may not be too far away.
The MiGene Family History App (programmed by xHub) is an Android-based mobile application that aims to introduce medical genetics services into low and middle-income countries.
The app is used by health care providers to collect and store patient and family histories.
It generates personalized genetic counselling information that can be delivered to patients and their families. And the data can also be used for epidemiologic analysis.
The app has already been piloted in St Paul’s Hospital in Ethiopia and has since been rolled out to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana.
The app is used by healthcare providers in gathering and storing patient demographic information and medical histories.
It tracks the number of diagnosed (living and deceased) relatives, which establishes a three-generation lineage.
It generates personalized genetic counselling information that can be delivered to patients and their families.
The data can also be used for epidemiologic analysis.
Having this data will aid in decision making. For instance, it can evaluate the probability of success of interventions such as Ethiopia’s folic acid supplementation efforts, which were introduced as a strategy to decrease the occurrence of birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord.
The first version of the app concentrates on paediatric birth defects and genetic diseases. These include heart malformations, Down Syndrome, and neural tube defects.
After the success of the pilot study in Ethiopia, MiGene Family History App has now been expanded to include adult-onset non-communicable diseases such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Future plans for the app include improving the genetic testing proficiencies available at St. Paul’s and launching a genetic counselling training program for hospital staff.
This focus on patient and health care provider education is critical when introducing a new medical technology into a country or region.