NIPER here held a Pharma Industry Summit on 24th March 2017, bringing together many govt, academic, industry and trade groups to speak about life sciences entrepreneurship in Hyd. It was a great initiative by Dr. Nanduri who himself brings many years of industrial experience to NIPER.
I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion on “Start Up and Entrepreneurship in Life Sciences : Challenges and Way Forward”. Our panel consisted of two academics : Dr. Suman Kapoor of BITS Pilani Hyd who has brought out a device to determine TB infection much faster, and Dr. Madhusudhan of CCMB who is currently spearheading CCMB as an incubator for Life Sciences industry. Dr. Balaji Bhyravbhatla of Hylasco, a serial entrepreneur, Dr. Swaroop Vakkalanka of Incozen with several licensing deals under his belt, and myself as a co-founder of Sapien Biosciences represented LS Industry.
Each panelist spoke from their experience and shared some of their advice such as getting sufficient experience in one’s field before embarking on entrepreneurship, assessing your market often to manage risk, knowing your investor as well as your competitors, maintaining a diary of ideas and vetting them with experienced people, not being too possessive of one’s ideas, being willing to back out if timing is not right, forming teams of 3-4 people where 1 member is not a scientist etc.
There were many questions from the audience which made for a lively interaction.
Key action items that emerged from the panel were to
a) Form a LS group and hold a monthly networking meeting rotating at different forums several of which were offered immediately – CCMB, BITS campus, NIPER, Madhapur. A WA group will be created soon.
b) Create a comprehensive directory of LS companies in Hyd area
I noted that I knew all the panelists! This used to be common in LS meetings at TiE-Boston but it was nice that it finally happened in Hyderabad, a city I moved to 5 years ago.
In picture from L to R: Mr S Reddy (Registrar NIPER), Dr. S Nanduri (Professor, NIPER), Dr. J Jain (CEO, Sapien), Dr. S Vakkalanka (CEO, Incozen), Dr S Kapoor (Professor BIT Pilani Hyd), Dr. B Bhyravbhatla (CEO, Hylasco), Dr. Madhusudhan (Professor, CCMB).
Dr. Jain attended the Molecular Med Tricon 2017 conference at San Francisco 19-23rd Februrary, 2017. It was a blend of academia and industry working in the field of personalized medicine using molecular approaches. Dr. Jain joined Sapien’s partner, Trans-Hit Bio of Canada, who had put up a booth at the conference and promoted our partnership jointly.
Dr. Jain attended the Diagnostics and Cancer Tracks where dozens of companies and groups working on improving the sensitivity and specificity of blood- or urine-based markers ranging from cancer cells or cell-free DNA, RNA, proteins presented new technologies. Such groups are potential customers of our biobank so it was a good meeting from business point of view as well.
This is a retrospective study with data collected from breast cancer cases from five major Apollo Hospitals across India, as part of a biobanking process. One aspect of our study focused specifically on data from triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cases. The aim of this study was to analyze epidemiology, treatment options, and survival of the patients with TNBC. Our goal was to draw conclusions on the preponderance of the disease and also to understand the outcomes using the existing therapy options. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data were collected after due ethical clearances and were coded with regard to patient identifiers to protect patient privacy. Data were not only from the various departments of the respective hospitals and the treating physicians but also from the follow-up made by hospital staff and social workers. RESULTS: About 20% of all cases of breast cancer comprised TNBC. Although the disease is generally thought to be an early onset disease, there was no major difference in the median age of diagnosis of TNBC compared to other breast cancer cases. More than 85% of the TNBC cases were of early stage disease with <4% of the cases of metastatic cancer. Data on follow-up were somewhat sporadic as a good number of cases were lost to follow-up, but from the available data, recurrence rate was about 11%. Death, when it occurred, was mostly in the early periods of treatment with 35% of the events occurring before 3 years. The overall survival rates beyond 3 years were more than 86%. CONCLUSIONS: Data and sample collection are an ongoing process, so we expect this data set to be enriched with more cases and longer duration of follow-up in a year. Preliminary analysis sheds light on the potential of such a collection both for understanding the epidemiology of the disease and also for conducting future studies with an eye toward improving treatment outcomes.
It is a pleasure to be working again with Dr. Anjana Rao, Jugnu’s postdoc advisor from Dana Farber Cancer Institute & Harvard Medical School days. Anjana is now the Chair of La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology with a joint appointment at UCSD. Her lab’s work on Tet family of proteins and their regulation of transcription via methylation in cancer is well known (Rao et al Nat Immunol 2017).
Given our biobank’s deep collection of annotated cancer samples, both FFPE and matched live cells, it’s a synergistic alliance wherein Sapien brings not just samples but also its R&D expertise in histopathology, cellular and molecular biology to bear on the project. The project’s first milestone to standardize and automate LJI’s IHC protocol in Sapien hands has been reached.
Hyderabad, November 10, 2016: Sapien Biosciences, a niche biotech venture committed to develop novel cutting-edge medical diagnostics backed by Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited announces its partnership with OncoStem Diagnostics, to launch “CanAssist-Breast”, a robust and cost-effective test to predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence in early stage hormone positive and Her2 negative Breast Cancer patients.
Sapien Biosciences is a bio-repository that enables the development of cutting edge diagnostics and therapeutics for personalizing medicine. Patient samples and associated medical data that are systematically collated and ethically banked at Sapien are a necessary resource for rapid validation of novel diagnostic tests. Announcing the partnership with OncoStem Diagnostics Dr. Jugnu Jain, Co-Founder and CEO – Sapien Biosciences said, “We are very excited to be part of this launch of CanAssist–Breast which represents a paradigm shift in customizing Breast cancer treatment. Development of accurate recurrence diagnostics in cancer is particularly dependent on the availability of reliable retrospective information which is acutely lacking in India. To validate CanAssist-Breast, we mobilized five Apollo hospitals data archives to piece together complete 5 years treatment and outcome data for over 6500 Indian breast cancer patients”.
In India, about 1,50,000 patients are diagnosed of breast cancer every year and currently there are no affordable tests to predict the risk of cancer recurring. As a result, majority of early stage patients with low risk of recurrence are perhaps over-treated and thus bear toxic effects of chemotherapy treatment (CT) that reduces their ‘quality of life’. Additionally, studies have proven that the benefit of chemotherapy in such patients is known to be 10-15% suggesting many patients can be spared conventional CT. Highlighting the importance of CanAssist-Breast, Dr. Manjiri Bakre, Founder and CEO, OncoStem Diagnostics said, “CanAssist-Breast is our flagship product and is a boon for patients as well as doctors. It enables clinicians to assess the aggressiveness of the tumor and personalize and optimize therapy for their patients. The canAssist-Breast test can spare over 60,000 Breast Cancer patients in India and over 660,000 patients worldwide every year from the severe effects and unnecessary costs of chemotherapy-associated toxic”.
CanAssist-Breast test uses clinical parameters in combination with novel biomarkers quantified using a standardized technique which measures protein expression accurately. This information is integrated into a statistical algorithm to stratify patients as “low or high risk” for recurrence. “In India, due to a variety of reasons ranging from awareness to culture, Breast Cancer patients are diagnosed much later, with only 5-8% of patients being Stage 1 at detection. Consequently, the globally available recurrence prediction tests are not very impactful in geographies such as India and SE Asia due to their utility being limited to only Stage 1 patients and the prohibitive cost of the tests. CanAssist-Breast test can be used on a much wider pool of patients up to Stage 2B, and is priced at 1/6th the price of competitor tests and therefore aims to touch the lives of millions of patients worldwide”, added Dr Bakre.
CanAssist-Breast is being launched within the Apollo network in India and the worldwide launch is planned in a phased manner. Commenting on the partnership, Ms. Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals says, “Affordable and broad based tests to estimate the ‘risk of recurrence’ are an absolute necessity for ‘optimal and personalized’ treatment planning. Apollo has been at the forefront of recognizing personalized medicine as the future of healthcare delivery and has been adopting cutting-edge diagnostic tests to deliver better patient care to improve outcomes. Our association with Sapien is one of various initiatives we have undertaken with a vision to enable personalized medicine approach and we are very excited to see this crystallize through partnerships such as this one with OncoStem. Cancer recurrence space is largely unexplored, especially in India and needs immediate attention. I look forward to Apollo & Sapien pioneering the introduction & adoption of this important innovation from OncoStem across our network of oncology centres for the benefit of our patients.”
CanAssist-Breast is ISO-13485 accredited, and expects to acquire the CE mark by November 2016. These accreditations will enable the launch of the test in global markets later this year. The market for a breast cancer recurrence diagnostic space is currently valued at $ 3 Billion globally and is expected to grow at 18% CAGR. Clinical validation of CanAssist-Breast in India and the US demonstrates a high NPV (negative predictive value) of 95%, which is a measure of the accuracy of the test. The results of the global validation study are currently under review for publication.
About Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd. (AHEL)
It was in 1983, that Dr. Prathap Reddy made a pioneering endeavor by launching India’s first corporate hospital – Apollo Hospital in Chennai. Now, as Asia largest and most trusted healthcare group, its presence includes over 8,600 beds across 50 Hospitals, 1,632 Pharmacies, 92 Primary Care and Diagnostic Clinics, 100 Telemedicine units across 10 countries. Health Insurance services, Global Projects Consultancy, 15 colleges of Nursing and Hospital Management, a Research Foundation with a focus on global Clinical Trials, epidemiological studies, genetic research and the upcoming first Proton Therapy Center across Asia, Africa and Australia.
In a rare honor, the Government of India issued a commemorative stamp in recognition of Apollo’s contribution, the first for a healthcare organization. Apollo Hospitals Chairman, Dr. Prathap C Reddy, was conferred with the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 2010. For more than 30 years, the Apollo Hospitals Group has continuously excelled and maintained leadership in medical innovation, world-class clinical services and cutting-edge technology. Our hospitals are consistently ranked amongst the best hospitals globally for advanced medical services and research.
About Sapien Biosciences Pvt. Ltd.
Sapien Biosciences is a joint venture between Apollo Hospitals & Saarum Innovations that has created a world-class biobank and personalized medicine company that leverages Apollo’s leadership position in healthcare and Saarum’s cutting-edge life sciences research expertise for novel clinical and R&D applications. Sapien’s primary objective is to use its high-quality bio-repository that integrates ethically consented human samples with associated medical, pathological & treatment data and utilize this resource to develop & deliver high-end diagnostic applications. Further Sapien has entered into an alliance with Apollo Hospitals that allows Sapien to front-end Apollo’s personalized medicine initiatives. This allows Sapien to bring novel cutting-edge diagnostics to Apollo, either on its own or in collaboration with best-of-breed global institutions world-wide thereby enabling world-class healthcare to improve patient outcomes. Sapien has fully functional labs located within the Apollo Health City Campus in Hyderabad. For more information about Sapien Biosciences, visit www.sapienbio.com.
About OncoStem Diagnostics Pvt. Ltd.
OncoStem is a start-up diagnostic oncology company. It is founded by a Dr. Manjiri Bakre, a Cell Biology veteran with significant experience in US, Singapore and India in cancer biology and cancer drug discovery. It is funded by Artiman Ventures, an early-stage Silicon Valley-based venture fund that invests in white space companies that create or disrupt multi-billion dollar markets. OncoStem is primarily focused on developing novel tests which will predict ‘risk of cancer recurrence’ and thus enable physicians to prescribe targeted drugs to prevent cancer recurrence. OncoStem’s initial focus is breast cancer as it is the most common cancer in women across the globe but it also plans to develop similar tests for other cancers such as oral, glioma, lung and colon. For more information about OncoStem Diagnostics, visit www.oncostemdiagnostics.com
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org , +91-7207580008, 9704600772
Jugnu Jain, Sreevatsa Natarajan, Soma Chatterjee
India has a high disease burden and a large number of patients. There is a tremendous need for Indian biobanks to preserve Indian samples, to capture the great diversity of diseases to spur research into earlier, more precise diagnosis and better treatments for diseases plaguing India. This review article summarizes the key components of building a systematic comprehensive biobank, type and formats of sample and data, and the ethical and regulatory guidelines in India. An example of a growing Indian biobank, Sapien Biosciences, is shared along with its business model to reach sustainability. This is done by developing clinical diagnostics internally using the annotated samples but also sharing samples and outcomes data with external investigators. Our goal is to highlight the immense untapped value of Indian biospecimens and data, to catalyze the formation of collaborative networks of biobanks both within and outside India
Sapien is collaborating with Dr. Joglekar’s group at Boston University to mine Sapien’s cardiac patients database. Our goal is to jointly analyse patterns of usage of different stents, blood thinning medicines, co-medications, myPlatelet assay , follow-up visits and monitoring with an eye towards optimizing implementation of personalized treatment to improve patient outcomes.
Over the last three years, Sapien Biosciences, working with leading cardiologists Dr. PC Rath and Dr. PK Sahoo at Apollo Hospitals, and Dr. A Yerramilli at SV College of Pharmacy, have collated a detailed dataset of approximately 800 coronary artery disease patients who underwent a PCI-stent procedure. These patients were prescribed various anti-platelet therapies (APTs), branded or generic versions of clopidogrel, prasugrel, ticagrelor, as part of their maintenance regimen for a year or more to prevent restenosis. About half of these patients also took Sapien’s myPlatelet test (myPlatelet brochure), a combination genetic and functional test, to check the effectiveness of the APTs they were prescribed. These ~800 patients have been followed up for a year to determine the success of their treatment regimens and document any significant adverse events. This rich dataset is being used to perform cost-benefit analysis of different treatment paradigms in the Indian healthcare delivery context.
Appropriate ethical IEC/IRB clearances have been taken by each party to share de-identified data. These analyses are expected to be published and pave the way for additional studies including assessing the impact of patient engagement in improving outcomes.
myPlatelet test is a combination of genetic profiling for the presence of common variants of CYP2C19 gene that affect the bioavailability of clopidogrel , and a platelet function test for evaluating platelet reactivity. It is highly specific and sensitive compared to the commonly used Light Transmission Aggregometry (LTA), and correlates well with the plasma levels of anti-platelet medication. It is able to detect high risk of thrombosis or blood clotting as well as excessive bleeding. The value of this assay in preventing post-procedural major adverse cardiac events or MACE in patients who underwent PCI has been demonstrated in several studies world-wide as summarized in this publication.
Sapien is India’s largest commercial biobank, repurposing human medical waste to discover and validate clinically useful prognostics, diagnostics & theranostics to optimize the diagnosis and treatment of individual patients. It has curated over 55000 patients’ samples and associated data spanning most diseases plus access to more than 1.5 million healthy and diseased individuals. It follows Indian medical council (ICMR) guidelines and works closely with Institutional Ethics Committees to ensure ethical and regulatory compliance.
Dr. Nitin Joglekar is Associate Professor of Operations and Technology Management, and Dean’s Research Fellow, at Boston University Questrom School of Business. His interests span development of products, supply chains and customer engagement at established and entrepreneurial organizations.
CEO at Sapien Biosciences & Saarum Sciences
We offer 2 to 12 month research internships for bright diligent motivated graduate students in Biology, Biotech, Pharmacy, Bioinformatics, Health data analytics etc. The internships can be hands-on lab experience (molecular biology, cell biology, diagnostics, FACS etc.), or in medical data analysis, sample and clinical data organization in EMR/EHR databases. Specific clinically-relevant projects focused on patient treatment paradigms e.g., breast cancer, stent procedures drugs and outcomes, cost-benefit analysis of targeted drugs are also available.
Lab-based training is available at Hyderabad, whilst data and project-based training is available at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and other metro locations where Apollo Hospitals are present.
Appropriate ethical approval for projects involving handling of patient material or data is always taken. Students are trained in confidentiality and safety norms.
In addition to a certificate of internship and thesis, students are encouraged to present their findings in conferences. Longer-term interns that make significant contribution to projects may also be acknowledged in presentations and publications from our group. Mentoring of students aspiring for MS/PhD abroad is done on a case-by-case basis.
CEO at Sapien Biosciences & Saarum Sciences
“Epidemiological and survival analysis of triple negative breast cancer cases in a retrospective multicentre study” comprising 257 TNBC cases collated from across five cancer centres in India has been accepted for publication. It should be out in a few months.
Next one summarizing data from >6500 Indian breast cancer cases, of all receptor types, is under preparation. Our goal is to exceed 10,000 cases within the year.
Our database of breast cancer samples, complete diagnosis and treatment info, combined with 3-5 year outcomes data offers tremendous opportunity to study Indian risk factors, identify optimal treatment paradigms for each subtype of patients, analyze cost-benefit ratio of different surgical/chemo/RT treatments, etc. We expect using them to also develop better prognostic, diagnostic and theranostic tests to improve survival in breast cancer patients.
1st Floor, AIMSR Building,
Apollo Health City,
Hyderabad 500 096
- Industry Internships for Motivated Biology-Based Graduate Students on
- Sapien collaborates with Boston University to perform cost-benefit analysis of treatment paradigm in PCI Stent patients in the Indian healthcare system on
- Industry Internships for Motivated Biology-Based Graduate Students on
- Apollo Hospitals & Saarum Innovations launch Sapien Biosciences on
- Panel discussion on Innovation at the Academia Industry Synergy Day at NIPER-Hyderabad on
- Our CEO, Dr. Jugnu Jain, wins Niti-Aaayog’s Women Transforming India Award on International Women’s Day, March 2020.
- Sapien’s breast cancer database showcased @BioAsia2020, shortlisted by an expert selection committee for Startup Stage @ BioAsia 2020.
- Meet India’s first commercial tissue bank startup Sapien Biosciences
- Lung Cancer 2018
- Dr Jain of Sapien selected to participate at Global Entrepreneurs Summit 2019 at the Hague, NL