With a view to focusing on healthcare services, the biochemistry department at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) is all set to carry out interleukin-6 (IL-6), ferritin, and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) tests.

The upgraded infrastructure at the department was inaugurated today on the occasion of the NBMCH’s 53rd Foundation Day.

The department conducts other routine tests, including all hormone functional tests, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which ascertains the average level of blood sugar over the past few months, and urine ACR. “Our focus remains on dedicated patient care services, education and research of students.

As part of this, the department will introduce some more tests to cater to more patients. With the new infrastructure, it is expected that tests like IL-6, ferritin, total iron-binding capacity will be carried out within a few months,” said the head of the department, Dr Utpal Kumar Biswas.

There are three associate professors, two assistant professors, along with six medical technologists, and seven demonstrators, sources said. Many Covid-19 patients develop a cytokine storm, which is an overproduction of immune cells and their activating compounds known as cytokines.

The IL-6 plays an important role in the release of cytokines.

The TIBC measures the capacity of blood to bind iron with transferrin. According to Dr Biswas, they plan to work on a prenatal diagnostic thalassaemia project.

“We have a molecular laboratory meant for education purposes, but we are also thinking of using it for patient care in the near future,” he said.

The officer on special duty for Covid-19 in north Bengal, Dr Suasnta Kumar Roy, lauded the efforts of the department. The chairman of the patient welfare committee of the NBMCH, Dr Rudranath Bhattacharya, said that much earlier, there had been limited diagnostic facilities like blood sugar, urea creatinine and liver function tests, limited scope of thyroid function, but now the department had scaled new heights.