In what could be a potentially massive breakthrough, Singaporean molecular diagnostic company Tzar Labs, in collaboration with India-based Epigeneres Biotechnology, has developed a new blood-based test that can be used for early cancer prognosis and diagnosis. The discovery lies within a more contentious segment of cellular biology. But if validated by additional trials, this could hold vast market potential: the number of cancer cases in India is estimated to be 13.9 lakh this year and may increase to 15.7 lakh by 2025, with its prevalence being marginally higher among women, according to the ICMR and the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research.
Mitali Mukherjee spoke with Ashish Tripathi, chief executive officer at Tzar Labs, who said this novel marker could identify the risk of cancer, help with early and late-stage detection and even identify the area in which cancer may be present.
Tripathi said the aim was to help in the early-stage detection of cancer in the human body, which could help save lives with the help of prompt treatment. He was also confident of the method’s efficacy (99.9% according to their published paper) versus the existing methodology of circulating cell-free tumour DNA methodology that some US companies are already functioning in.
The company plans to bring the test kits to the market in India by September-October this year. It is working on securing regulatory approvals and also setting up a network of labs and indicated they would try and price the kit at an extremely “economical”.
Epigeneres has filed for patents in the US, Japan, Europe, Singapore, South Korea, China and India. It is also in talks with investors to raise $200 million to fund large clinical trials, with 10,000-20,000 subjects, in Western markets. The HrC test is named after Tripathi’s son-in-law and former senior Mumbai police officer Himanshu Roy, who died by suicide in 2018 while ailing with cancer.