To The Crux Of DNA
Datar Genetics helps determine the best treatment approach for certain cancers.By Avantika Patil Wadhavkar
Precision cancer medicine has been getting a great deal of attention in the past few years and having the ability to match the right treatment to the right patient, aims to achieve better patient outcomes, fewer side effects and an improved economic benefit to the patient and caregivers. What if you could also predict your future illnesses and avoid or treat them? Genetic testing is emerging as the next big segment in healthcare-based innovative diagnostics. These ‘what ifs’ are possible in today’s day and age with genomics. It is the science that can, in a precise way, look at your genetic make-up and help treat critical diseases. Nashik-based company Datar Cancer Genetics Limited is doing just that. Advances in biomedicine can determine the best treatment approach for some cancers. The shift from a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment regimens that are tailored to individual patients’ needs has begun and is expected to gain greater momentum in the coming years. Datar Cancer Genetics Limited has been able to attract and retain global talent to spearhead its healthcare initiatives. We spoke to Swati Deshpande, Director Operations and Dr. Vineet Datta, Executive Director from Datar Cancer Genetics Limited to understand the journey of the company so far.
Datar Cancer Genetics started its operations in 2013 at a facility in Ambad, Nashik. In the initial years, the company worked on a predictive genetics portfolio, personal genome analysis, hereditary screening for cancers, pharmaco-genetics, etc. Within a short span, the company began to focus on the light on why Datar Cancer Diagnostics chose to specialize in the oncology segment, Deshpande says, “The incidence of cancer is on the rise and there are lakhs of patients diagnosed with cancer every year, in India alone. We believe the early diagnosis, monitoring, and effective personalized cancer treatment is the urgent need of the hour. We have developed several high-impact investigations in-house that can deliver unique treatment solutions for the patients.” Datar Cancer Diagnostics has focused largely on developing services that offer insight into precision, customized and accurate medicine through its diverse ecosystem of innovative oncology solutions.”Today, our entire focus is on oncology and our research team is completely devoted to finding sustainable solutions for cancer treatment, and ultimately, a cure for cancer,” she adds.
“THE INCIDENCE OF CANCER IS ON THE RISE AND THERE ARE LAKHS OF PATIENTS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER EVERY YEAR, IN INDIA ALONE. WE BELIEVE EARLY DIAGNOSIS, MONITORING, AND EFFECTIVE PERSONALISED CANCER TREATMENT IS THE URGENT NEED OF THE HOUR.”Swati Deshpande, Director Operations, Datar Cancer Genetics Ltd
Molecular and genetic testing is a fairly new but fast-growing concept in India. The trend of identifying effective medical solutions according to the genetic make-up of an individual seems the future of the healthcare industry globally. Says Dr. Datta: ”Genetic testing is increasingly being utilized in clinical practice, with ever-increasing data points guiding clinicians in more effective decision making on various treatment options. With the benefits of genetic testing getting established, efforts must also be made to increase access to genomic services for all who can benefit. India is at the cusp of a revolution in medical diagnostics, and India can lead the outcomes-based endeavors to improve the current survival rates for cancer. Though the adoption of genetic tests to treat some of the most complex conditions is evolving, the solutions offered today by Datar Cancer Genetics outsmart those available in some of the most developed countries.” “Every individual is different, in terms of their genetic profile, lifestyle, and exposure to the environment,” adds Dr. Datta. “Hence, each individual responds differently to treatments. In addition, the genetics of cancer is complex, and the molecular.
the profile keeps changing with time. So, therapies need to be personalized, and our encyclopedic tumor analysis approach does exactly that with specific treatment recommendations, in addition to multiple coordinates providing insight into metastatic potential and resistance to treatment drugs”. The tumour aetiology is different from person to person and even from one tumour to another tumour, different cancer cells behave differently in terms of aggression and mutations.
Not so smooth No journey to success is complete without some rough terrain. Deshpande recalls the hurdles Datar Cancer Diagnostics faced during its growth years: “We were one of the first companies in India to offer these tests in the clinical environment and faced the challenges of concept selling. We kind of brought it out into the open, created a huge amount of awareness about personalized therapy. The Indian mindset is not about “prevention” but about treating post the onset of disease. The challenge initially was disseminating information about genetic testing. Another main challenge in cancer space is the boxed therapy based generic approach to treatment. We initially had challenges in finding appropriate research and clinical trial partners and sourcing skilled manpower as we are based in Nashik.” Deshpande says that the absence of an ecosystem for adopting disruptive innovation is challenging. However, Datar Cancer Diagnostics focuses on creating a culture of scientific excellence internally. Their facility has been accredited by the International Standards Organisation (ISO 9001, 2015), National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP). With 150+ full-time staff with affiliate partners across 50 locations in India and across 10 countries, Datar Cancer Genetics is well poised for domestic and international growth.
Genetic testing and molecular profiling are widely accepted and used techniques in Western and middle eastern countries for better disease management. Talking about the current global approach in genetic testing and molecular profiling, the Datar team believes that the entire world of cancer healthcare is today abuzz with the personalized approach to the treatment of cancer and the impactful role of liquid biopsies, and it is only a matter of time before it is adopted as the standard of care. The molecular profiling of a tumour helps to understand the kind of drugs that a tumour will respond to and select the most suited therapy for that particular tumour. “We are sure that genetic-level analyses will continue to have a huge impact on disease management,” says Deshpande. “Globally, a lot of genetic research opportunities exist and are increasingly providing greater data points and it is only a matter of time before it is adopted extensively in healthcare. We believe India is in a unique position to be at the forefront of technological frontiers globally.”
Futuristic Approach I
n recent years, there has been a major uptake of genetic testing and researchers worldwide are working towards finding breakthrough inventions. The future of DNA and RNA mapping is still being realized, and with new discoveries constantly coming to light, the genetics industry becomes even more important to navigate. Talking about the future of molecular profiling and genetic testing, Dr. Datta shares, “Medicine is ever-changing. Developments in this domain are forcing the clinicians to relook at the way we understand and treat disease. This dynamic transformation is accelerating, as new technologies become easier to use and less expensive. The increasing understanding of the human genome is now recognized as being one of the main determinants of future improvement in healthcare. Genetic tests have diverse purposes, including screening for and diagnosis of genetic disease, the identification of future health risks, prediction of drug responses and identifying targeted therapies to provide customized cancer care.” He informs that aside from providing insights to clinicians for better diagnosis, the milestone for genetic tests is ‘targeted therapy’ for specific cancers. The new treatment approaches need to be rigorously tested for scientific validity, and there is a still long way to go in bringing the latest, evidence-based technologies to the patient. The oncology ecosystem can only become more efficacious when healthcare innovators, clinicians, scientists, regulatory agencies, governments, and funding agencies come together for the greater good.
GENETIC TESTS HAVE DIVERSE PURPOSES, INCLUDING SCREENING FOR AND DIAGNOSIS OF GENETIC DISEASE, THE IDENTIFICATION OF FUTURE HEALTH RISKS, PREDICTION OF DRUG RESPONSES AND IDENTIFYING TARGETED THERAPIES TO PROVIDE CUSTOMISED CANCER CARE.”DR. Vineet Datta, Executive Director, Datar Cancer Genetics Ltd.
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