By Sugata Sanyal
When the Digital India initiative took off, one of the most intriguing ideas that I read was about touching a billion lives with genomics. In addition to the magnitude, the route to achieve this is fascinating. In the days of wearable technologies with smart sensors and socialized healthcare, where does genomics figure? How can a technology that is taking baby steps in the market aim so big?
Anu Acharya, founder and CEO of Mapmygenome, gives a new meaning to thinking out of the box. In 2013 when the idea was still in nascent stages and there was hardly any market for DNA-based predictive tests, she founded Mapmygenome – India’s pioneering personal genomics company. Their flagship test, Genomepatri, offers a comprehensive health profile covering 100+ conditions and traits relevant to the smooth functioning of the human body and responses to several key drugs. Mapmygenome promises a simple, non-invasive, once-in-a-lifetime route to better health. In the last two years the company has seen rapid growth in terms of product lines, sales, funding, and channel partners.
Expertise: There are few genomics companies apart from Mapmygenome that can claim 15+ years of expertise in the domain. Anu Acharya’s expertise gained from her first foray into entrepreneurship through Ocimum Biosolutions, which has been offering genomics research to life sciences, healthcare, biotech and pharma R&D companies across the globe. Adding to this expertise is Mapmygenome’s access to gold standard databases such as BioExpress and tools such as ASCENTA.
Introducing positivity to health: Traditionally, healthcare has been perceived as a scary domain. From weight management to cancer, every aspect of health is fraught with psychological costs. With focus on healthy habits, Mapmygenome gives health a positive touch. In addition to finding health risks, they offer solutions to mitigate these risks.
Genetic counseling: Understanding genes is not easy, unless you have a degree in that field. Even experts cannot claim knowledge of all the genes, their sequences, and variants. A genetic counselor is a specialized and certified expert when it comes to genes and health. She correlates health history with report findings and makes things clear for the customers. Typically, there is a one-hour genetic counseling session once a client receives the Genomepatri report.
Value for money: Genetics being a new technologyis an expensive route to health. However, considering the expenses involved in diagnosis and treatment as well as the benefits of prevention and early detection, one can safely say that these genomic tests provide value for money.
The Road to Billion
Healthcare is currently seeing a paradigm shift from a physician-centric to individual-centric approach. Individuals are becoming proactive about their health and taking preventive measures due reasons such as increased education and awareness, health social networks, mobile health apps, etc. This is fertile ground for technologies like Genomepatri to grow to their maximum potential.
Dr. Sugata Sanyal is a Honorary Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. He is Member, School of Computing and Informatics’ “Brain Trust”, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, USA. He is also a Distinguished Scientific Consultant at the International Research Group – Study of Intelligence of Biological & Artificial Complex Systems, Bucharest, Romania. He is an Innovation Mentor, TotalStart Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Developers. He has served as Research Advisor, CTO, Tata Consultancy Services, India (2012-2015) and Adjunct Professor: Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur(2013-2014). He was Professor at School of Technology & Computer Science,Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (1973-2012)
Mapmygenome, on its part, is focused on its vision and is heading towards the goal with strategic partnerships and other activities. The road may be tough, but not impossible.
And they are reaching it, slowly. Hats of to them!