MedGenome plans to launch D2C tests; eyeing an IPO in the next few years

In a recent conversation with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch, MedGenome Founder Sam Santhosh talks about the startup’s growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, funding plans, and more.
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MedGenome — a genetic diagnostics, research, and data company focused on expanding access for populations in South Asia and other emerging markets — is soon expecting to close an investment round from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.

MedGenome has already raised $110-120 million from marquee investors, including Sequoia, Sofina, HDFC, and Leapfrog.

In an exclusive conversation with YourStory’s Daily DispatchSam Santhosh, Founder and Chairman, MedGenome, said, “A large proportion of the funds raised have been utilised towards setting up the infrastructure for genetic testing, as it is very expensive and requires several supporting tools.”

In April 2020, the startup had raised $55 million in a Series D round, led by Leapfrog Investments.

The startup claims it has already built the largest database of South Asian genetic variants through its leadership in genetic diagnostics in India, research partnerships, and work as a co-founding member of GenomeAsia 100K.

It has completed over 200,000 genomic tests to date and obtains samples from more than 550 hospitals and 6,000 clinicians across India.

However, since the beginning of the pandemic, it has not been a smooth ride for the startup. As hospitals only operated to cater to COVID-19 patients, MedGenome’s business took an obvious hit. 

As the need for testing increased, MedGenome also launched COVID testing last year. While genome tests do not detect COVID-19 in humans, it helps to understand the virus strain or subsequent variants. These genome tests also provide insights into how a person’s genome contributes to the susceptibility of the virus. 

Genome testing in reproductive health

“Genetics is really hitting the mainstream now,” said Sam.

The Indian genetic diagnostics market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 42 percent over the next five years. Globally, the market is expected to grow from $13 billion in 2019 to $28.5 billion by 2026 — driven by improving penetration, affordability, and increasing consumer awareness.

MedGenome operates the largest CAP-accredited Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) lab in South Asia. Its diagnostic tests include many breakthroughs for genetic diagnostics, including the first proprietary liquid biopsy (OncoTrack) to monitor cancer treatment, a non-invasive prenatal screening test (NIPT) for pregnant women, carrier screening for couples planning children, and whole-exome sequencing for cost-effective identification of rare mutations.

This year, the startup is launching KardioGen— a test that will help a person understand their cardiac risk. It looks at six million data points of a person’s genome, and the algorithm checks if a person is at high risk of a cardiac problem. 

While MedGenome primarily works with clinicians, KardioGen will be available directly to customers pan-India through ecommerce platforms.

Additionally, MedGenome will collaborate with cardiologists from across the country so that high-risk patients can immediately seek medical intervention. 

“We will be launching it at the end of this month or early next month, and that will be one of the primary areas of growth for MedGenome,” the founder said. 

Edited by Suman Singh