Swagene ─ considered as one of the top 10 startups of 2015, this Chennai-based company is in the business of personalized medicine. Swagene has won both the CII award the DST-Lockheed Martin Award and has also won the Conquest at BITS Pilani, Masterplan at IIM Ahmedabad and Empresario at IIT Kharagpur. In an interaction with Dr Sooraj Ratnakumar, Founder-Scientist of Swagene elaborates on his company's expertise and future plans.
To begin with, could you outline what Swagene is all about and how is it different from other diagnostic and medical services company?
Dr Vani and I started Swagene to bring advanced molecular diagnostics to Indian shores. Swagene is likely the first lab in India that is focused on personalized medicine through molecular diagnostics. Personalized medicine adds a paradigm shift to medical practice, putting the patient in the centre, rather than the disease. All doctors agree that every patient responds differently to both disease and drugs, and therefore we help tailor therapy to the patient to achieve maximum treatment outcomes.
Our mantra is ‘excellence in science, excellence in service'. About 50% of our tests are first-in-market to South Asia, borne out of extensive research into modern clinical trials. Only those biomarkers that have clinching evidence of dramatic improvement in treatment come out of our R&D into the market.
We're a knowledge sharing lab, and in that effort, our website provides a lot of information on the tests and how they will be useful. Our Infertility and Cardiology tests can be ordered online (www.swagene.com/order/) or over the phone and we'll send a mouthwash collection kit to the patient's home and arrange return courier too!
Being the first in developing tests for certain rare cancers such as sarcomas, we've been getting enquiries from several states even in Northern India before launch.
Could you describe the people behind the company's inception?
I'm a molecular scientist with over 10 years' experience in genetics and molecular biology from top institutions in the world such as the University of Cambridge. I went on to do three postdoctoral fellowships at Cambridge, University of Washington, Seattle, USA and EPFL, Switzerland. With over 10 years' experience in molecular biology and genetics, I've teamed up with Dr Vani, a medical doctor, to offer advanced molecular diagnostics at Swagene. Dr Vani is a Gynaecologist-obstetrician with over 35 years' experience in clinic and surgery in southern India and the Middle-East. Combining medical and scientific expertise, we aim to revolutionize patient-oriented care in South Asia.
You are bringing in the concept of personalized medicine? How is this achieved?
Would you take a drug if you knew that it's going to be of no use to you, or that it's going to give you severe side-effects? We provide patient-centric care by putting patient at the centre and suggesting individualized therapy that will provide the highest benefit. Personalized medicine aims to bring down healthcare expenses by determining the drugs or procedures that are likely to improve the patient's condition while at the same time preventing severe side effects. In a short time we have developed novel and innovative tests in three medical specialties.