Derived from the Greek words for sea (θάλασσα) and blood (αίμα), thalassemias are a group of inherited, genetic blood disorders. Thalassemias occur when the production of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen within the red blood cells (RBCs) is disrupted. A life-threatening disease, thalassemia is an autosomal recessive condition with over 100,000 affected babies being born every year1.

Hemoglobin consists of two parts, called alpha and beta proteins. When the production of one of these proteins is affected, it results in either alpha (α) or beta (β) thalassemia. Severity depends on the type of thalassemia and whether one has the ‘minor’, ‘intermedia’ or ‘major’ form – defined by the number of genes that are altered. α-thalassemia is most commonly found in Africa, Middle East and India, while β-thalassemia is more prevalent in the Mediterranean.

Symptoms and treatment of thalassemia vary depending on type and severity of the condition. In mild cases, symptoms might be non-existent and treatment is not required – carriers only have the risk of passing the affected gene to their offspring. In moderate to severe cases, symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, pale or yellowish skin, slow growth, abdominal swelling, dark urine and facial deformities2,3. Babies with the most severe cases may be born stillborn, die shortly after birth, or require lifetime treatment2. Untreated patients might show growth retardation, jaundice, poor musculature, skeletal changes and severe anemia2. Lifelong transfusion therapies and iron chelation procedures to remove the excess iron that is accumulated are needed for moderate and severe cases. The excess iron in the body is one of the most severe complications of thalassemia treatment, as it can damage the heart, liver and other internal organs2,4. Additionally, spleen enlargement may occur due to the spleen overworking to remove all the damaged RBCs and avoid possible infections. While spleen removal is an option, it leaves the body more prone to infections. Other complications of thalassemia treatment include hypothyroidism, heart failure, liver and gall bladder problems, and diabetes2,4. A bone marrow transplant to eliminate the need for lifelong blood transfusions might be a treatment option for severe cases, and gene therapy to correct the mutated gene could be applied in the future.

Even though thalassemia is more common in specific countries, its prevalence is worldwide due to population migration and intermarriage between different ethnic groups. Thalassemia carriers do not exhibit any symptoms and may be unaware of their genetic status, but their children have 50% chance of being carriers and 25% chance of being affected. Therefore, thalassemia carrier screening is one of the most widely performed genetic tests, and countries that are most affected by thalassemia have developed their own screening programs. These programs vary in being either mandatory or voluntary; being offered premaritally, preconceptionally or prenatally; and on the public education and counselling provided. Examples of successfully implemented thalassemia screening programs are those of Italy and Cyprus. The region of Sardinia introduced a voluntary screening program in premarital and antenatal couples in 1975 which saw the thalassemia incidence fall from 1:250 to 1:4000 in 20 years, a 95% incidence decrease5. A ‘quasi-mandatory’ premarital screening program in Cyprus, where 1 in 7 people is a carrier of β-thalassemia, was implemented in collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Church since the early 1980’s6. The thalassemia laboratory tests couples free of charge and issues them a certificate to confirm the testing – which is required if the couples wish to be married by the church. Genetic counselling and information on reproductive options, like pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or prenatal testing, is offered to them if they have a risk of having an affected child. This led to a significant decrease in the birth of affected individuals that had a beneficial role in improving the treatment of thalassemic patients – otherwise there would have been a significant blood shortage in the island7.

In addition to carrier screening, prenatal detection of thalassemia is possible through non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), a simple and painless procedure that tests the fetus’s DNA through a maternal blood sample, and compares it to the maternal and paternal DNA to check for the genetic status. Nowadays, NIPT is routinely used for chromosomal aneuploidies as it provides the expecting parents with information early, reassures them, and allows them to take informed decisions. Its use in monogenic disorders, like thalassemia, is novel and provides an alternative option to the more expensive PGD. Confirmation of high-risk pregnancies by invasive procedures, like chorionic villi sampling or amniocentesis is recommended.

Every year, 8th of May is celebrated as the International Thalassemia Day. The aims are to spread knowledge about thalassemia and raise awareness about a disease that used to be universally fatal, but now has excellent prognosis due to medical, social and political collaboration.

The VERAgene NIPT can detect thalassemia, along with 49 other monogenic disorders, 8 aneuploidies and 4 microdeletions from the 10th week of pregnancy. To learn more please visit NIPT results, possible next steps and clinical management should always be fully discussed with your healthcare provider.


1) National Human Genome Research Institute (2013),

2) May Clinic (2016),

3) Rare Diseases (2015),

4) Kids Health (2015),

5) Mitchell et al. (1996) ‘Twenty-year outcome analysis of genetic screening programs for Tay-Sachs and b-thalassemia disease carriers in high schools’. American Journal of Medical Genetics; 59: 793-798.

6) Thalassaemia International Federation (2019),

7) Cousens E. et al. (2010) ‘Carrier screening for beta-thalassaemia: a review of international practice’. European Journal of Human Genetics, 18: 1077-1083.

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NIPD Genetics - Privacy Policy

General Statement

NIPD Genetics is a leading, innovative biotechnology company that designs, develops, and provides a broad spectrum of healthcare services to its customers through its expansive portfolio of molecular and clinical laboratory tests in all disciplines.

At NIPD Genetics we are committed to protecting and respecting our customer’s privacy and personal information. Personal information or personal data means any information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could be reasonably linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular individual, such as name, identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that individual.

NIPD Genetics collects and processes your personal information according to the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Cypriot law providing for the protection of natural persons with regards to the processing of personal data and for the free movement of such data (L. 125(I)/2018). The following principles lie at the heart of our approach to handling personal data:

NIPD Genetics has appointed a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who is responsible for overseeing and ensuring that personal information is collected and processed in line with these principles. The contact details of the Data Protection Officer (DPO) can be found below:

Email address:

Postal address: 31 Neas Engomis street, 2409 Engomi, Nicosia, Cyprus

Telephone number: + 357 22266888

By accessing or using our products or services, or by transmitting information to us by email or other electronic means, you accept our policies, procedures and practices described in this Privacy Policy. If you do not agree with our policies, procedures and practices as described, you can choose not to access or use our products or services or not to transmit personal information to us.

This Privacy Policy applies to NIPD Genetics facilities, its websites,, and their subdomains, that link to this privacy pol icy.


We collect and process several types of personal information from and about users of our websites and of our products and services, including:

Information about children

If you are under 18 years of age, do not register on our website or provide any information about yourself to us. We do not provide our products or services directly to children or proactively collect their personal information. Despite this prohibition, it is possible that we may sometimes be given information about children while handling samples from our customers in our clinical labs, or through use of our products and services by our customers and partners. If we become aware that we have inadvertently collected personal information from children under the age of 18, without parental consent, we will take the necessary steps to delete it as soon as possible in compliance with applicable laws.


Your personal information is collected by NIPD Genetics for the following purposes:

  1. To provide you with our products and services, respond to your inquiries or fulfill your requests and otherwise manage your relationship with us. The legal basis for processing is to meet the requirements of a contract, to comply with our legal obligations and/or because we have a legitimate interest in responding to requests for information about our products and services.
  2. To communicate with you about content and product offerings, newsletters and event invitations which are relevant to your interests and in line with your preferences. The legal basis for processing is the individual’s explicit consent prior to sending the information and managing individuals preferences.
  3. To process and respond to complaints. The legal basis for processing is to meet a legal obligation.
  4. To monitor and record information relating to the use of our products and services, including our website. The legal basis for processing is our legitimate interest in order to improve our products and services and our website for individuals.

To provide our products and services, NIPD Genetics may collect, receive and process biological samples to isolate and sequence DNA. NIPD Genetics may then store resulting genetic information and use genetic information to provide our products and services. In some cases, NIPD Genetics may provide interpretations of genetic information on behalf of its customers, including healthcare providers. This is only done pursuant to a written contract or a Sample Information Form with a patient’s informed consent and is subject to applicable legal and ethical safeguards.

This sensitive information described above is collected by NIPD Genetics for the following purposes:

  1. To provide support and maintenance services to customers who use our products and services – The legal basis for processing is to meet the requirements of a contract.
  2. To provide genotyping and sequencing services and analysis for our customers, including healthcare providers. The legal basis of this processing is to meet the requirements of a contract or as allowed in the Sample Information Form with a patient’s informed consent.
  3. To conduct genotyping and sequencing services and analysis for quality control, process and product development and improvements, and optimization in our labs to reflect quality improvements and advances in our technology. The legal basis for processing is the patient’s informed consent given through the Sample Information Form.

Transfer of Data

Your information, including personal data, may be transferred to - and maintained on - computers located outside your province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside Cyprus and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including personal data, to Cyprus and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

NIPD Genetics will take all reasonable steps necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your personal information will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure of Data

NIPD Genetics complies with the General Data Protection Regulation and will not sell or trade your personal information.

NIPD Genetics may disclose your personal information in the good faith that such action is necessary:


Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifiers. Cookies are sent to your browser when you visit a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies used on the website are beacons, tags and scripts, to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our websites.

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our websites and collect certain information. This includes information about the computer or device you are using, such as Internet protocol (IP) address, information about the browser type or version, the pages of our website that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our websites.

Examples of Cookies we may use:

Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our websites.

Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.

Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Visitor behavior cookies. To understand how visitors use and navigate the websites

Keyword cookies. To understand how visitors discover the websites.


We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our websites.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.

You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.

For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page


We are committed to protecting the security of the information we collect, and we take reasonable physical, technical, and administrative safeguards such as data anonymization and encryption to help protect personal information from unauthorized or inappropriate access or use. It is your responsibility to protect the confidentiality of your passwords, and any other access features associated with your access or use of the website or our products and services, as well as to adhere to any applicable Terms of Use or other contract between us and you or your organization.


We may retain collected information even after you remove it from the website, our Services, or our Products, to comply with applicable law, to resolve disputes, to enforce any rights in connection with the website, our Services, or our Products, and to use as provided in this Privacy Policy, the Terms of Use, or an applicable contract between us and you or your organization. How long we retain specific personal information varies depending on the purpose for its use and we may delete or retain your personal information in accordance with applicable law.


We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate, maintain or operate our websites (“Service Providers”), to provide the websites on our behalf, to perform service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our websites are used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.


Our websites may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third-party link, you will be directed to that third party's site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third-party sites or services.


This Privacy Policy may be updated from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our website, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the bottom of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.


NIPD Genetics ensures that it can respond immediately to requests that you make for the exercise of your legal rights in accordance with data protection laws. These rights are as follows:

You also have the right to lodge a complaint at any time to the Office of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection.

We encourage you to contact us, should you wish to practice any of your legal rights or you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, by sending an email to NIPD Genetics’ Data Protection Officer at

Effective date: 18/06/2021

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