Narayana Nethralaya and MedGenome set up India’s first ‘multi-omics diagnostics lab’

Goal is to provide a complete, one-stop solution for diagnostic testing of every aspect of a disease at the molecular level

Lloyd Dunlap
CHENNAI, India—Super-specialty eye hospital NarayanaNethralaya (NN) and MedGenome, a genomics and diagnostics company, recentlyannounced a joint initiative to set up a state-of-the-art diagnostic and basicresearch service laboratory at NN's Health City campus in Bangalore, India,with a combined investment of $5 million. The lab space and some overhead costswill be borne by NN, with all other costs absorbed by MedGenome. The partnersalready have a sample collection center at NN and the full-fledged lab shouldbe up and running by December.
 
 
As the first-ever "multi-omics diagnostics lab" inBangalore, it aims at providing a complete, one-stop solution for diagnostictesting of every aspect of a disease at the molecular level from DNA to RNA toprotein biomarkers. The Cell Multi-Omics Diagnostic and Research Lounge willcover genetics, gene testing, whole-genome sequencing, gene expressionmicroarrays, proteomics and immunohistochemistry. In addition, there is alreadyan operational flow cytometry facility for research, as well as diagnosticevaluation of blood markers.
 
 
"Narayana Nethralaya and MedGenome share similar objectivesof promoting translational research and utilizing latest technologies forpredicting, preventing and better management of diseases," states Dr. V.Ramprasad, CEO of MedGenome. "Narayana Nethralaya is a part of Narayana HealthCity, which has other specialty (oncology, cardiology) hospitals on the samecampus."
 
Speaking about the joint initiative, Sam Santhosh,MedGenome's chairman, says "This effort envisages MedGenome-ANGEL (AdvancedNovel Genetic Evaluation Laboratory) in genetic testing for rare and commongenetic/hereditary diseases that includes various types of cancers,cardiovascular diseases, eye diseases and neonatal disorders. Our mission is tomake this testing available and affordable for people with cancers or genetic conditionsand their families, thereby actively working towards guarding health. Themarket 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 forthe breast cancer gene panel, including genes like BRCA, using single-genetests provided by MedGenome, and if positive, the other female members of thefamily can also get tested and take appropriate precautions if they are positivefor the mutations. Similarly, for the hereditary eye cancer retinoblastoma, thelab can identify the mutation and screen the entire family and newborns toensure better treatment and prevention. All these will be done within NN'sHealth City campus, which will ensure faster processing, simplification oflogistics 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 chairmanand managing director. "Currently, our efforts are directed towards groundworktowards this goal. We believe that by collaborating nationally andinternationally with institutions that have advanced basic researchcapabilities, we can avoid reinventing the wheel. An interdisciplinary approachis not only the fashion, but also a necessity today. Our long-term vision is tobe recognized as one amongst the best research and academic institutions in theworld."
 
"This partnership will add a much-needed edge over any otherhospital systems in the country in terms of translating benchtop research tothe patient's bedside in the hands of the physician and surgeons. Alongsidethese diagnostic testing modalities, this initiative also aims to developin-house tests/kits for genes or diseases specific to the Indian populationwith the help of the research groups/clinicians on campus and around thecountry," says Ramprasad.

Lloyd Dunlap

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