A conducive research environment need of the hour to overcome repeated virus-based crisis: Dr Vedam Ramprasad

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India, for that matter the world, needs a conducive research environment to overcome repeated virus-based crisis. The world has seen multiple influenzas over the last two decades such as Ebola virus disease, Zika virus disease, Nipah virus disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), middle east respiratory disease (MERS) and now, coronavirus disease (COVID-19), said Dr Vedam Ramprasad, CEO, MedGenome.

Only a favourable research ecosystem for new drugs and devices can counter the deadly viruses. Therefore, we need a more encouraging environment that can help us invest in research and development. In the long-run, it will prepare us to fight the pandemics better and even mitigate it to a larger extent. Pharma companies can leverage the research findings to develop medicines and vaccines, he added.

While it is virtually impossible to predict what the next pathogen threat will be, from where it will emerge and when it will strike, yet a pandemic-focused research could give us a future head-start in the battle against infectious diseases. In terms of tactical steps, compulsory surveillance or screening at all entry and exit points should be made a routine, Dr Ramprasad told Pharmabiz in an email.

In a such a scenario, genetic/molecular testings are the future of healthcare especially in infectious diseases. Both these test protocols have emerged as a strong proof of concept making gene-based testing the way forward for healthcare and to augment personalised treatment.

Another example is tuberculosis! One of the biggest challenges is resistance, that bacteria has developed for the available drugs. “Our whole genome sequencing-based test SPIT SEQ is a breakthrough that sequences the bacterial genome and provides a drug resistance profiling for all anti-TB drugs, including newer drugs. This can be a game changer in the way TB is diagnosed and treated currently in the country,” he said.

In the current COVID-19 scenario, India’s response has been proactive in handling the situation. As per the health ministry, the recovery rate in coronavirus infections is improving and there has been a steady decline in the case fatality.

Now COVID-19 has become India’s most deadly infectious disease, excluding tuberculosis. Molecular testing has unravelled significant information that can aid personalised treatment by disease-form anticipation and drug discovery. Here MedGenome offers a range of tests in the domain of infectious diseases with two of our biggest partners in this arena. A large section of our resources is invested in the research arm of the business as this forms a crucial aspect in understanding infectious diseases better, said Dr Ramprasad.

In April, the company garnered a investment of US$ 55 million led by LeapFrog Investments. Its plan is to widen the clinical genomic testing market by expanding access to Tier-II and Tier-III towns and cities across India to accelerate growth prospects.

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