Genomic sequencing startup MedGenome revealed today that it has raised $4M in Series A funding to further its goal of genetics-based, personalized disease treatment. VC funds Papillon Capital and Emerge Ventures backed the company to harness India's genetic homogeneity, which provides important mutation-spotting opportunities. A group of independent investors in the tech and data science sectors also joined the round.
India's population has maintained many groupings of genetically homogenous people because of historical barriers to change (MedGenome's website mentions language and caste as reasons). Since genetic homogeneity facilitates the identification of mutations which in turn signal disease, India holds in its a people a nascent power for genomic diagnosis and treatment.
MedGenome is using this treasure trove to provide genetic research to organizations in India and beyond and it could be huge. Similar endeavors in Iceland have resulted in significant breakthroughs.
Dr. Andrew Peterson, Genentech research scientist and molecular biologist explains: “The genomics industry has already seen critical advances from analysis of the gene pool of Iceland, due to that country's genetic homogeneity. India, due to its unique history, is like hundreds of Icelands”.
Among MedGenome's services are genomic cancer diagnostics and a bioinformatic database called OncoMD. The database is made up of more than 1.2 million cancer-related mutations and is licensed to hospitals to enable doctors to identify problems and personalize treatment.
According to CEO Sam Santhosh, MedGenome plans to use its new funding to expand these programmes, developing its sales network and making its tools and research more widely available to clinicians and hospitals.
Santhosh says that the company is the leader in the Indian genomic market and the benefits of its research should extend not just to India but to the medical world at large. As the cost and time of genomic sequencing comes down and down, MedGenome's goal of unleashing India's genetic potential should become ever more achievable.