Updated on 6 September 2012
Dr Saleem Mohammad, founder, Xcode Life Sciences
Personal genomics has the potential to revolutionize prognosis and treatment of diseases.
Availability of a technology that can screen genetic information of a person and inform which diseases he or she may be susceptible to can go a long way to help doctors suggest lifestyle changes and preventative steps to a person. Moreover, if information on a person's DNA is available, it can help decide which medicines to prescribe and avoid medicines that may have side-affects on the particular patient.
Xcode Life Sciences brings this concept of personalized healthcare technology to India. Dr Saleem Mohammad, who started the company in December 2010, aimed to start such a personal genomics company in India.
The X in Xcode stands for the chromosome (representative of the helix shape of the DNA). The word ‘code' comes from 'genetic code'. "The idea of this technology was incubated while pursuing my PhD. It was during this time that Dr James Watson's genome was sequenced and made publicly available in 2007. Then, I had this epiphany. Here was an opportunity for an Indian genome project that could catapult India into cutting-edge delivery of personalized nutrition and medicine," says Dr Saleem Mohammad, recalling the beginning of Xcode Life Sciences. "We are beginning to see a similar trend in India with the rise of personal genomics companies. However, they are yet to hit on a successful strategy to take their services profitably to the market. We feel our innovation in technology, along with our strategy in marketing and pricing, will aid in the advent of personal genomics in India."
The company has been offering genomic services and mobile-based educational programs. Currently, genetic data is primarily used for cancer diagnostics to confirm the presence or absence of mutations in India. But the use of genetics for prognosis of early possible risk of other common or rare disorders is almost absent. The company's solution include empowering the people of India with the knowledge about their genes, discovering novel genetic markers to strengthen predictive capabilities, aiding drug companies to design effective drugs based on genetic variance, and enhancing genome-specific data in India.