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Narayana Nethralaya and MedGenome set up India’s first ‘multi-omics diagnostics lab’
CHENNAI, India—Super-specialty eye hospital Narayana Nethralaya (NN) and MedGenome, a genomics and diagnostics company, recently announced a joint initiative to set up a state-of-the-art diagnostic and basic research service laboratory at NN's Health City campus in Bangalore, India, with a combined investment of $5 million. The lab space and some overhead costs will be borne by NN, with all other costs absorbed by MedGenome. The partners already have a sample collection center at NN and the full-fledged lab should be up and running by December.
As the first-ever "multi-omics diagnostics lab" in Bangalore, it aims at providing a complete, one-stop solution for diagnostic testing of every aspect of a disease at the molecular level from DNA to RNA to protein biomarkers. The Cell Multi-Omics Diagnostic and Research Lounge will cover genetics, gene testing, whole-genome sequencing, gene expression microarrays, proteomics and immunohistochemistry. In addition, there is already an operational flow cytometry facility for research, as well as diagnostic evaluation of blood markers.
"Narayana Nethralaya and MedGenome share similar objectives of promoting translational research and utilizing latest technologies for predicting, preventing and better management of diseases," states Dr. V. Ramprasad, CEO of MedGenome. "Narayana Nethralaya is a part of Narayana Health City, which has other specialty (oncology, cardiology) hospitals on the same campus."
Speaking about the joint initiative, Sam Santhosh, MedGenome's chairman, says "This effort envisages MedGenome-ANGEL (Advanced Novel Genetic Evaluation Laboratory) in genetic testing for rare and common genetic/hereditary diseases that includes various types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, eye diseases and neonatal disorders. Our mission is to make this testing available and affordable for people with cancers or genetic conditions and their families, thereby actively working towards guarding health. The market in India is still in the nascent stage, while the U.S. market is about $5 billion. The opportunities for growth are tremendous."
For example, a patient with breast cancer can get tested for the breast cancer gene panel, including genes like BRCA, using single-gene tests provided by MedGenome, and if positive, the other female members of the family can also get tested and take appropriate precautions if they are positive for the mutations. Similarly, for the hereditary eye cancer retinoblastoma, the lab can identify the mutation and screen the entire family and newborns to ensure better treatment and prevention. All these will be done within NN's Health City campus, which will ensure faster processing, simplification of logistics and increased accessibility to clinicians and researchers.
"We are now ready to shift gears to venture into research, specifically clinical and applied," states Dr. K. Bhujang Shetty, NN's chairman and managing director. "Currently, our efforts are directed towards groundwork towards this goal. We believe that by collaborating nationally and internationally with institutions that have advanced basic research capabilities, we can avoid reinventing the wheel. An interdisciplinary approach is not only the fashion, but also a necessity today. Our long-term vision is to be recognized as one amongst the best research and academic institutions in the world."
"This partnership will add a much-needed edge over any other hospital systems in the country in terms of translating benchtop research to the patient's bedside in the hands of the physician and surgeons. Alongside these diagnostic testing modalities, this initiative also aims to develop in-house tests/kits for genes or diseases specific to the Indian population with the help of the research groups/clinicians on campus and around the country," says Ramprasad.