A medical university in southern India is to set up a registry of twins in order to understand better genetically acquired diseases.
But the project of the Dr MGR Medical University in Tamil Nadu would confine itself to twins in the state capital of Chennai.
It would seek to answer such questions as how many twins does the city have, how many are identical, do identical twins have identical diseases and so on.
The "Twin registry" to be set up by the department of genetics would, hopefully, have a comprehensive database of twins, young and old, in the next couple of years.
The Chennai Corporation, which issues birth certificates, would provide information on newborns. A team would also visit hospitals, schools, colleges, and government and private offices to collect information on adults twins. Besides these the university would run a multi-media campaign calling for voluntary registration.
The data base would have information including names, age, address and medical history of the twins. Though most developed countries and even developing ones like Sri Lanka and Vietnam have such registries for over a decade, there is none in India.
"As of now, we don't know the number of twins or the kind of genetic diseases they are prone to. The scope of things you can do with such a data base is indeed immense. We can make use of it for both commercial and research purposes benefits," points out Dr Prema Lakshminarayan, head of the department of genetics.
The department would set up genetic clinics in Kilpauk Medical College and RSRM maternity hospital at Royapuram. Besides these they would also have partnerships with private hospitals for research. Twins registered would get free medical care in all government and private hospitals that partner with the university.
"It will be an active registry. The civic body will send us reports every day but we would also visit their office to crosscheck our list every month. We would also request those registered to update information," says Dr Sai Lakshmi, a lecturer. "Networking is a continuous process and once we create enough awareness things will fall in place," she hopes.
The grants for the project are expected to come from the Indian Council for Medical Research.
The university would expand the registry to cover the entire state over a period of time, writes Pushpa Narayan in the Times of India.