Updated on 21 December 2012
Molecular Diagnostics tests are part of a new wave of cutting-edge technology that analyse genetic information. Australia's Universal Bionsensors is conducting research into molecular diagnostics at the point-of-care. The market for molecular diagnostics is valued at more than $5 billion worldwide and is expected to grow at over 15 percent annually. The company is looking to combine some locally licensed technology with its own proven biosensor technologies to detect DNA or RNA electrochemically. This would imply that the tests would take minutes, rather than hours, and the system would be simple to use and cost-effective.
In April this year, NutraGene launched India's first commercial genetic test for type 2 diabetes. NutraGene's Type 2 Diabetes Genetic Scan is a DNA testing service that screens DNA variations that have been widely replicated as risk factors for type 2 diabetes. It is based on a buccal (cheek) swab sample and the methodology of targeted mutation screening (genotyping). The tests cost around $136 (Rs 7,500) and also include complimentary genetic counselling to help customers and their physicians understand patients' genetic results.
Such preventive healthcare programs are important for the patients because it allows them to take proactive measures to prevent or, at worst, postpone the onset of what would otherwise have been an inevitable consequence. For example in diabetes, a disease that has got familial inheritance pattern, it has been established that a pre-diabetic prognosis could prevent or postpone the onset of diabetes significantly through a program of dietary changes, regular exercise and preventive doses of Metformin.
UAE-based start-up Eastern Biotech and Life Sciences provides preventive diagnosis for diabetes cancer (breast cancer, hereditary non-polposis colon cancer, malignant melanoma) and cardiovascular disease. The disease-specific test costs around $700 whereas the cancer tests cost over $1000. The company also has several other solutions in the genetic diagnostics space such as pre-marital genetic screening, prenatal diagnosis, including non-invasive test for trisomy, new-born screening, lifestyle disorder screening and whole genome scan.
Metropolis, an India-based lab that processes over 10 million tests a year, too has pharmacogenomics-based solutions for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, KRAS mutation analysis and EGFR mutation analysis. The prices start from $36 (Rs 2,000) for the tests.