Personalized genomics in India by Precise.ly and Narayana Health
The new genomics startup Precise.ly, launched by Aneil Mallavarapu and Linda Avey, the co-founder of 23andMe, is bringing consumer personalized genomics to India in collaboration with Narayana Health, one of India’s leading specialty hospital networks.
Narayana Health holds a significant position in healthcare, as it has a network of 24 hospitals serving 2.5 million patients. The hospitals have managed to bring down the costs of many procedures, including heart bypass surgeries for $3,000 and cancer surgeries for $700 by emphasizing cost savings and efficiencies.
On the other hand, Precise.ly’s mission is to collect and analyze genomic data from the less privileged populations who did not have access to these services. To date, the majority of the research was being conducted on wealthier populations in wealthier countries. 54gene is also a similar startup that intends to bring the same service in the African continent.
Majority of the research until today was conducted on European populations. But the rest of the world also deserves validated genetic insights. Precise.ly gathered a team of experts in genetic analysis and its applications in the people of South Asia and beyond.
Narayana Health, the hospital network founded twenty years ago by Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty is taking care of some of that work. Dr. Shetty is hopeful that the genetic database of Precise.ly will help his hospitals to build a stem cell donor registry for hundreds of thousands of people from India who are looking for transplants.
U.S. FDA recognized the personal genetic testing for testing genetic risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Celiac disease, and Parkinsonism. Dr. Shetty said most of the diseases would be added to the list eventually. It is possible to conduct population screening at a large scale at a reasonable cost due to the simplicity of genetic testing from saliva samples. Narayana Health is working with Precise.ly to add HLA typing, which has the potential to improve many disease treatments like cancer in India.
It was a bit circuitous for Precise.ly to enter the Indian Market. Avey went to RockHealth (an investor in the company’s $1 million seed round) after she left 23andMe to explore different methods to store and organize more of a patient’s quantified health data.
Avey took another look at the genetics market as the company failed to gain traction. Avey found that there are significant opportunities in the genetics market, and India would be a good target with its growing middle class and flourishing healthcare industry.
They were initially planning to build all kinds of apps for people with a specific diagnosis. But the market was already chocking from numerous startups, including 23andMe. The founder of the company, Shahram Seyedin-Noor, and an early investor in the company who is from Civilization Ventures suggested to look globally for growth.
Delivering validated genetic insights to the people outside the western countries is the mission of Precise.ly. Precise.ly is initially focusing in India, as India has urgent health issues that could be rapidly addressed through access to personal genomic data.