Ex-PSU honchos set up genome-based wellness enterprise

Two former heads of leading Central government institutions in Kerala have launched a technology-driven, genome-based wellness enterprise that uses saliva to analyse a person’s genetic disposition and predict critical diseases to prevent their occurrence through precision medicine.

Called SAGENOME, the enterprise is incubated at the Integrated Startup Complex (ISC) of the Kerala Startup Mission in Kochi. It has already rolled out a ‘Home Saliva Collection Kit’ at the national level and offers multiple genome-based tests.

Proprietary software soon

The collected samples are currently analysed both at the BioNest Biotechnology Business Development Incubator at the ISC and under a service agreement at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here until its facility is ready at the Life Sciences Park in Thiruvananthapuram.

The company is developing proprietary software based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. This is critical since there is a huge amount of data that needs to be analysed repeatedly.

Set up by M Ayyappan, former CMD of HLL Lifecare, and M Radhakrishna Pillai, former Director of RGCB, SAGENOME is powered by its OhMyGene platform that leverages Next Generation Sequencing of DNA and its application to identify diseases and their prevention using saliva.

OhMyGene platform

A first round of investment is in the offing, which will be used for setting up a laboratory on a one-acre site at Life Sciences Park, according to Ayyappan, Chairman, and Pillai, CEO, SAGENOME. The laboratory with modern facilities will be ready next year, they told newspersons here.

“Saliva will allow for analysing thousands of variations in the human genome,” Pillai said. “It will set the ground for personalised healthcare by identifying patterns within genetic data sets so that computer models can make predictions about an individual’s odds of developing a disease. It will thus help in suggesting suitable medicinal interventions and changes in lifestyles.”

The OhMyGene platform provides genetic information associated with cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases, reproductive health and infertility management, pharmacogenomics and pro-active health management.

Personalised healthcare

SAGENOME intends to set new paradigms in personalised healthcare and is developing innovative methods for early cancer detection using an easily generated ‘liquid biopsy’ from a blood sample that may be over 100 times more sensitive in detecting and monitoring of many tumours.

The OhMyGene platform houses personalised genetic wellness programmes in nutrition, skin, hair health and high-performance sport. “Personalised nutrition through nutrigenomics will tremendously aid the use of functional foods and supplements based on a person’s genomic information,” Pillai said.

Since genetic variations play a major role in infertility of both male and female partners, SAGENOME has begun focussed research in this area. Another distinctive feature of its portfolio is Ayurveda, the ancient science of life-based on the concept of preventive and personalised medicine.

Next up, Ayurgenomics

The company intends to develop ‘Ayurgenomics’ to provide genetic validation and support to the central theory of Ayurveda that integrates food (Pathya or Ahara) and drugs (Ousadha) in therapeutics to maintain harmonisation of the “doshas” or physiological factors according to individualistic variability or “Prakriti” and environmental factors. This portfolio will be ready for public use by December.

Ayyappan had transformed HLL from a contraceptive-making Central PSU to a ‘Mini Ratna’ healthcare behemoth. Pillai became the youngest head of a national research institution when he was appointed Director of RGCB at the age of 44. Since then, a leading biotechnology institute, RGCB has also developed 33 startup companies in the BioNest Technology Incubator.

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