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Singapore's Global Gene offers genetical testing services in India

Monday, 16 June 2014 - 7:28am IST | Agency: dna

Singapore-based Global Gene Corporation is looking at collaborating with hospital chains in India to provide access to its unique method of genetical testing using Indian genome. The company recently launched its operations in Mumbai, and is planning to take it to other metros by the end of the quarter, its chairman Sumit Jamuar told dna.

It is in an advance level of discussion with a city-based hospital chain and an oncology hospital. It is also in talks with a Bangalore-based healthcare chain. "We are trying to collaborate with the healthcare providers and ideally we would look at all cities where healthcare chains are coming up. We wanted to be present in all metros and most Tier I cities," said Jamuar. He said the company may rope in some celebrity ambassador to create mass awareness about genetic testing.

Using genetics testing technology called IndiaCHIP, Global Gene Corp customises test for the Indian genotype. "Our testing method is therefore unique compared with the typical tests being offered in India which are based on Caucasian population."

An increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCD) has been witnessed in India. Of this, around 62% NCDs are driven by cardio, diabetes and cancer. Due to a high birth rate, a very large number of infants are born every year with genetic disorders, almost half a million with malformations and about 21,000 with Down's syndrome. 

Kushagra Sharma, chief operating officer, Global Gene Corp, said, "We are aware that certain communities in India are more at risk of getting certain diseases. However, not everybody is at risk since a lot of people are simply carriers. They carry the genes but it may not have any effect on them. But it can skip one generation and can get passed on to the next."

Whether there is a propensity for partners to pass this risk to progeny can be checked through genetic testing. IndiaCHIP looks into about 34-odd conditions classified across different segments such as cardio, diabetes, etc, and can detect the chances of acquiring a disease. "We are also collaborating with pediatricians in order to spread awareness among mothers to get their children and newborns tested."
While the concept is fast picking up in western countries, it is still in an early stage in India. The overall addressable market for genetic testing is India is said to be around $2 billion, while the actual realised market is mere 1% of it.

Jamuar said his focus is to make people aware while making it affordable. The charges for this test will vary between Rs 10,999 and Rs 35,000, depending upon the tests done.

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