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Indian Research Center to Offer PGx Testing

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Originally posted Aug. 15.

India's Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research will conduct testing to gauge polymorphisms in the CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and VKORC1 genes.

By testing for SNPs in these genes, JIPMER hopes to promote personalized healthcare strategies for patients with epilepsy, peptic ulcer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cardiac disease, and deep vein thrombosis, as well as those undergoing valve therapy. Testing, slated to begin in the next three to six months, will be conducted in JIPMER's laboratory on a PCR-based platform.

JIPMER is located in the southern Indian town of Puducherry, formerly called Pondicherry.

According to an article on JIPMER's personalized medicine efforts in the publication The New Indian Express, the institute is hoping to use genetic testing to tailor treatments for patients treated at the center. JIPER also houses a drug information center, where it collects reports on adverse drug reactions, which will help with its PGx efforts.

Diagnostics firms are expanding their personalized medicine products and genetic testing services in India, recognizing it as an untapped market.

A report on the global genetic testing market released by market research firm Global Data earlier this year estimated that revenues from genetic testing in India increased to $9.3 million in 2010 from $3.2 million in 2003. Although the penetration of genetic tests has traditionally been low in India, the growth in testing revenues is a result of "increasing awareness among the general public regarding the importance of preventive care is leading them to undergo genetic tests to detect genetic alterations," according to the report.

In recent years, a number of gene-based paternity testing companies have started offering services in India. More recently, in March direct-to-consumer genomics firm Avesthagen began selling whole-genome scans to anyone who could afford the $1,000 price tag. The Bangalore-based company is using Affymetrix's array platform to test for 1.8 million SNPs and copy number variations. Test results will inform customers of their predisposition to certain cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, asthma, anemia, arthritis, as well as other diseases.

As previously reported by PGx Reporter sister publication BioArray News, Avesthagen launched the AvestGenome Project with Affy in 2008, aiming to study 60,000 individuals from the Parsi-Zoroastrian population to investigate longevity. The study is slated for completion in 2013 (BAN 03/29/2011).

Also earlier this year, Vermillion began selling the OVA1 test in India. OVA1 is a blood test that gauges the levels of five proteins and helps doctors assess whether a woman's ovarian mass is malignant or benign. As reported by PGx Reporter sister publication ProteoMonitor, OVA1 sales in that region accounted for less than five percent of the total tests performed from April to June (PM 08/05/2011).

Meanwhile, with an eye toward better reaching its Indian customer base, Life Technologies in July launched a new regional distribution hub in Bangalore. "By locating the India Distribution Center in Bangalore, we can bring our innovative technologies more efficiently to our customers and partners in the region and help advance their science," Devashish Ohri, Life Tech's managing director is South Asia, said in a statement at the time.

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