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Using genomics to treat critical illnesses

Thursday, September 29, 2016

In USA, while working on an assignment on Wall Street, Samarth came across upcoming Genomics technologies which was revolutionizing the practice of medicine there. He was moved by the way genomics was improving outcomes in cancer and in March 2012, when he met Dr Santosh Mishra (a leading authority on genomics), he realized the impact it could make in reducing the healthcare burden in India, and decided to start a company focused on genomics and technology and the idea of Positive Bioscience was born. He realized that this was the future of the medical field, and was excited to play a role in creating and defining a brand new industry.

Samarth is a Major in Economics from Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois. In conversation with Dominic Rebello he reveals why he believes that genomics is the Holy Grail to treat difficult diseases like cancer, heart diseases, stroke etc.

How big is the market for Clinical Genomics to India?
Genomic testing has grown from a niche specialty to a broad scope of applications for various diseases. With the fast progress in computing technology as well as the evolving study in genetics, the applications of clinical genetic testing is increasing, spanning medical disciplines, for inherited disorders; predictive and pre-symptomatic testing for adult-onset and complex disorders; and testing to guide individual drug dosage, selection and response for treatments of cancers. A significant portion of the healthcare industry can use the tests in one form on another.

However, the major strides are being made in the areas of oncology, prenatal carrier testing and personal genomics tests for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, and other lifestyle conditions. As forecasted in a new market analysis report, the global market for genomics is expected to reach USD 22.1 billion by 2020, wherein the Asia Pacific region is expected to grow at the fastest.

How big is the potential for a business like yours? Any major customers that you now cater to?
The clinical genomic space is quickly expanding. Right now there is no limit to the potential of a business like Positive Bioscience. Totally, the genomics sector is still under 1% of the total need in India alone. There are millions and millions of Indians who need genomic testing and do not have access to these tests.

We address the cancer market and the wellness/preventative health checkup market. Additionally we partner with major hospitals like Medanta, Breach Candy, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani, and Saifee to connect to the population.

Currently we have two main products in the market:

  • PositiveProtect a personal genomics test: For healthy individuals who can understand risk of diseases and take preventative actions to prevent these diseases.
  • PositiveSelect a cancer genomics: For patients diagnosed with cancer this test gives the best treatment options.

Any major trends in the market?
The Indian populace as well as the Indian healthcare sector are adapting and adopting the latest in healthcare technologies. With genomic testing being part of clinical practice in many countries, Indian medical fraternity is also adopting these practices. Earlier, the availability of these tests were a constraint, however with organizations like ours introducing the best quality tests in India, they now have access to this significant diagnostic tool.

On an individual perspective, with Indians traveling globally and getting exposed to trends in preventive healthcare, the trend of individuals wanting a role in their own health has seen them wanting to do personal genomic tests. This is a good step in personal health care.

Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
At Positive Bioscience, we are leading the clinical genomics revolution in India. I want every Indian to have access to the best technology in this area and be able to use it to improve or save their lives.

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