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Seven genetics startups that are transforming gene based health monitoring


Genetic testing is emerging as the next big segment in medical diagnostics. Some of the start-ups have changed the face of this industry by bringing in customised tests to identify diseases that individuals could be prone to so that they can alter their lifestyle. Genetic testing also helps women plan pregnancy and pre-natal tests identify if the baby is prone to diseases like Down Syndrome. The Genetic testing market, rapidly moving from a service driven model to product driven model, is expected to touch $ 2.2 billion by 2017. The US represents the largest market for genetic testing worldwide, led by the fast growing importance of prognostic and predictive screening, but India too is witnessing significant interest in the segment with growing disposable incomes. Here are a few start-ups that are revolutionising this space:

1. Navigene
Navigene has a unique and non-invasive preventive genetic screening service for newborns and adults, which can be implemented at a mass scale. Its primary focus is non-invasive preventive testing including newborn genetic screening, metabolic fingerprinting, prenatal screening and more, besides offering diagnostic testing. Navigene Baby Screen, the start-up's flagship product, screens the newborns for 110 genetic and metabolic disorders on the very 3rd day after birth and the company claims it is one of the most comprehensive screening tests in the world. It was founded by Dr Rishi Dixit (MD & CEO) and Dr Vrushali Joshi (CTO), and funded by early-stage incubation and venture capital firm, IncuCapital.

2. Datar Genetics
Datar offers a combination of genetic analysis, molecular pathology and tissue investigation. Founded by Dr Rajan and Shobhana Datar, the company has a wide range of tests and analytics with 300 plus high impact investigations.

3. Mapmygenome
—Founded by Anu Acharya, Mapmygenome offers personalised health solutions based on genetic tests that help people to know themselves. By combining genetic health profile and health history with genetic counseling, Mapmygenome provides actionable steps for individuals and their physicians towards a healthier life.

4. Medgenome labs
MedGenome is a provider of clinical genomics solutions for personalised healthcare. MedGenome has developed many single gene tests, and investigational tests covering oncology, pediatrics, prenatal, cardiology, ophthalmology, neurology, and other specialties. It was incubated for two years as a division of SciGenom Labs, Cochin, India and then spun off as a separate company with headquarters in Narayana Health City, Bangalore in 2013. Medgenome was founded by Sam Santhosh, an entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in running and initiating successful businesses.

5. Positive Bio sciences
Based out of Mumbai, this startup provides services designed to assess an individual's risk for developing disease later in life (predictive medicine), diagnosing diseases (diagnostic medicine), identification of a patient's likelihood of responding to a particular therapy (personalised medicine), and assessing a patient's risk of disease progression and disease recurrence (prognostic medicine). Samarth Jain, 28, was working as an analyst in the US, investing in healthcare companies, when he came to know about genomics, the study of genes and their functions. He returned to India and in October 2012 founded Positive Bioscience along with his mother Bapsy Jain, a chartered accountant and aunt Meetha Medhora, an expert in radiation oncology. Positive Bio has partnered with Medanta the Medicity, Gurgaon; Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai, where it also offers cancer genomic services.

6. GenePath Dx
A genetic and pathology based startup, GenePath Dx was started by Dr. Nikhil Phadke. What sets them apart is the fact that some of the tests done by GenePath are rare and the samples are sent from different places across the country. Once doctors determine that they need additional information, they refer their patients to GenePath Dx, where their samples are taken and diagnostic tests are performed on them.

7. Gene Box
The Gene Box is a holistic health platform providing cost-effective nutrition and health care solutions and services based on wide-ranging genetic analytics. Its comprehensive data analysis forms the basis for customised food and fitness recommendations across various age groups and health goals—from schools kids keen to excel in physical activities to senior citizens aspiring for a healthy lifestyle, from sports enthusiasts participating in marathons to professional athletes playing competitive sports. Gene Box studies the person’s food and fitness specifics, thereby arriving at tailor-made recommendations that are free of genetic conclusions. It was founded by Shiraz Siddiqui and Pranav Anam.

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