How Personal genomics is proving to be a popular tool in preventive healthcare?

persnalHow Personal genomics is proving to be a popular tool in preventive healthcare?

Coverage in the Economic Times on Mapmygenome on October 24th 2013. See link above for complete article. Below are some snippets from the article.

A casual conversation with a friend introduced the concept of genomic assessment to Vivek Bhargava. The 39-year-old technology entrepreneur who had just sold his company was in the process of taking stock of personal and professional goals. Intrigued by his friend’s idea, he took the personal genome mapping test at her company, Mapmygenome. The results astonished Bhargava.

He learnt that he had a propensity to develop Alzheimer’s disease—a common form of dementia— and diabetes. “It did not stress me out, but helped me alter my lifestyle to reduce the chance of getting it,” said Bhargava, who now follows a regimen of physical and mental exercises—including brain games designed by neuroscientists— and table tennis.

Bhargava is one of numerous Indians turning to gene mapping to discover their propensity for various illnesses as a number of startups price the service at more affordable rates.

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Hyderabad-based Mapmygenome, launched in April, tests for nearly 100 conditions and has provided genetic assessment for nearly 500 customers so far. While most come from metros, a growing number from smaller towns, such as Vijaywada, Coimbatore, Kharagpur and Jalandhar, are turning to the startup to test for diseases like cardiovascular, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and male pattern baldness.

“I performed the test on myself and was surprised to know that I am vulnerable to develop an addiction for heroin,” said Anu Acharya, chief executive of Mapmygenome and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

“I also came to know I am a possible world class sprinter but it seems to have been a lost opportunity,” said Acharya, who expects her company to earn revenue of `10 crore in the next two years.

Typically, genomic assessment companies test a person’s saliva or blood sample that can be couriered using a special kit to the lab for assessment. The sample is analysed by gene-mapping equipment and a personalised report is mailed back to the customer. Even traits, such as alcoholism, athletic performance and lactose intolerance as well as specific responses to certain drugs can be assessed.

Next-generation genomics is one of 12 disruptive technologies with potential to deliver economic value of up to $33 trillion a year worldwide by 2025, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Startups entering the space are drawn by growing demand from consumers for such services.

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