Significant about the biotech startup is that the founders are two proven men from India’s scientific arena – Dr M. Ayyappan, former CMD of HLL Lifecare, and Prof. M. Radhakrishna Pillai, former Director, RGCB.
The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over. There have been cases where the illness had severely affected people. Though the vaccination drive has brought down the severity of the disease in those re-affected by the coronavirus, there are many who think they are vulnerable and have been living a frightening life.
It is in this context that a Kochi-based biotechnology startup has brought to the fore a test kit that proves helpful in genomic analysis that can help predict chances of developing the severe disease if infected.
Biotech startup Sagenome builds Covigene on OhMyGene platform
Sagenome, a technology-driven, genome-based wellness startup, has developed the test kit christened Covigene, which has demonstrated that it has the capability to provide sufficient information that will help individuals prepare well for treatments to ensure correct management. The new technology provides a test of genetic variations that can help predict Covid 19 severity.
Sagenome, which is a Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) incubated startup, functions from the Integrated Startup Complex in Kochi, Kerala. Significant about the biotech startup is that it is the brainchild of two proven men in the scientific spectrum of the country – Dr M. Ayyappan, who is a former CMD of HLL Lifecare Limited (HLL), and Prof. M. Radhakrishna Pillai, a former Director of the prestigious Thiruvananthapuram-based research institution Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB).
Covegene, which is developed on Sagenome’s OhMyGene platform, provides data on the possible prediction of the disease course based on the profile of four genes. According to Prof. M. Radhakrishna Pillai, the understanding of Covid-19 severity has been, until now, limited to the use of clinical risk models. The addition of a genetic profile to the clinical modelling will be immensely useful, he added.
Covid patients experience extreme variation in disease course
Covid-19 statistics over the past two-year period reveal that people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus had experienced extreme variation in disease course ranging from a complete lack of symptoms to rapidly worsening end-stage pulmonary disease.
It has also been found that morbidity and mortality due to Covid-19 had risen dramatically with age and co-existing health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Peer-reviewed and reliable published data also strongly suggest that underlying genetic factors are involved in disease severity.
In such a situation, the Covigene technology is seen as being useful for elderly persons and those having co-morbidities including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer.
Dr Pillai pointed out that the biotech startup’s expertise had focused on identifying and validating gene variants associated with Covid-19 severity. The new research tool was used to forecast whether a person has a higher genetic chance of developing a serious disease. Such data would prove helpful for healthcare professionals when they treat patients diagnosed with a coronavirus infection, he added.