As COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown continue taking their toll on India’s overall healthcare, the country’s top genetic tests and research company MedGenome Labs has embarked on a bigger initiative addressing the country’s two most crucial infectious disease burden of the time. Leveraging its technology bandwidth and the reach, MedGenome has joined hands with Bangalore-based Xcyton Diagnostics and Hyderabad’s Dr Iravatham’s Clinical Laboratory to enhance their testing services for novel coronavirus infection and Tuberculosis respectively.
One of the biggest problems that India faces currently in healthcare is infectious diseases. Before COVID-19 was recognised as a global pandemic, India was at the centre of the discussion on reducing global tuberculosis burden. With an immensely high prevalence of tuberculosis in India, the world is looking towards India to control the same.
Shockingly, there are reports that show how the COVID-19 lockdown is taking us back to 2013 as far as India’s fight against TB is concerned. The lockdown may aggravate the existing TB burden as more TB patients may go undiagnosed and hence untreated.Citing MedGenome’s strengths, Dr. Vedam Ramprasad, CEO, MedGenome Labs, said that its collaboration with Dr. Iravatham’s lab is a milestone in TB testing ecosystem.
“We are committed to take more steps to integrate SPIT SEQ, our proprietary whole genome sequencing based test for diagnosis and drug resistance detection directly from sputum samples, into TB testing ecosystem,” he said.
Dr. Iravatham’s Clinical Laboratory in Hyderabad is currently a niche testing lab in the field of Tuberculosis diagnostics. The partnership with Iravatham’s lab will help integrate MedGenome’s flagship innovation SPIT-SEQ, with various tests offered by Dr. Iravatham for Tuberculosis and also set up a state of the art BSL2/3 infectious testing lab in Hyderabad.
“With India in the limelight as far as global TB burden is concerned, diagnosis and drug resistance detection take the centre stage. Offering a complete range of tests, right from smear microscopy to a sequencing-based test, will help shorten the time to diagnose, and lead to timely intervention, ” said, Dr Chitra Iravatham, Dr Iravatham’s Clinical Laboratory (DICL).
During the COVID-19 crisis, MedGenome has been at the forefront of the research side of the viral disease. The organisation undertook a joint research with SGRF, a science research and education foundation, where genetic data of more than 300,000 individuals across the world were analysed to identify variations in the ACE-2 protein gene that are predicted to make individuals more susceptible or even protect from the virus. The team of scientists at this initiative had found protein altering variants that are predicted to bind to the virus less tightly and hence giving these individuals natural protection against the invading virus. In this data set, they have also found ACE2 variants that may render individuals more susceptible to the virus.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had last month approved MedGenome’s partner Xcyton Diagnostics for undertaking RT-PCR testing to confirm COVID-19 at its lab in Bengaluru.
Talking about this collaboration, Dr BV Ravikumar, Founder and Managing Director, XCyton Diagnostics, said that the lab is nowequipped to undertake a minimum of 1000 tests per day, with an ability to scale up the capacity manifolds in a matter of a few days.
“We are strongly looking at making an impact and help India fight COVID-19,” Dr Ravikumar said.
MedGenome, with extensive technical capabilities to understand the genetic disposition in multiple therapy areas like cancer, reproductive health, TB, rare diseases amongst others, is currently the market leader in genetic testing and research in the country. The tests by MedGenome are recommended by over 1600 hospital networks and clinics in India at present.