HSA opens molecular biology lab | Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

The Health Services Authority (HSA) recently announced the opening of the Cayman Islands Molecular Biology Laboratory (CIMBL), which will perform diagnostic genome sequencing to help advance medical treatment and patient outcomes for people in the Cayman Islands.

According to the HSA, a major advantage of this new service’s local availability is the reduction of the timeframe, cost and inconvenience for patients and families that is currently associated with sending samples overseas or having to undergo expensive medical travels.

Currently, patients wait many weeks to months for these results, which can delay life-changing medical interventions. Once the diagnostic genome sequencing capability is fully established on-island, it will remove the barrier of access and reduce the cost for our people so they may get the testing they need.

HSA’s Principal Molecular Biologist, Jonathan Smellie explained.

According to the HSA, genome sequencing and molecular diagnostics have been game-changers in healthcare, from allowing for the development of PCR tests and vaccines for Sars-CoV-2 in record time to genetic disease risk profiling.

“It all comes down to analyzing our DNA. With this capability we can better understand how diseases will manifest and decide on the most effective ways to treat them,” said HSA’s Principal Molecular Biologist, Jonathan Smellie. Mr Smellie explained that CIMBL will initially focus on genomic sequencing for the early diagnosis of hereditary cancers in patients and gradually expand into carrier screening for genetic disorders.

HSA explained that genome sequencing can identify the presence of the genetic variants early on and help patients to know their own risk for developing cancer, making it possible for them to take preventative medical interventions to mitigate that risk altogether. This is important because, typically, genomic mutations leading to cancer may occur many years before a patient is diagnosed with the disease.

“This is a lifesaving, pioneering service that tremendously benefits the Cayman Islands,” noted Medical Director Dr Delroy Jefferson. “Not only will we be able to provide our population with cutting-edge healthcare insight, but CIMBL will also catalyze the advancement of our country’s healthcare industry. Mr Smellie and our very qualified staff within the laboratory are dedicated and working to ensure that CIMBL provides world-class diagnostic testing for our people’s current and future healthcare needs.”