MedGenome, a California-based startup, leverages genomic sequencing platforms to aid in diagnostics and drug discovery.
Most notably, the 9-year-old startup also collects samples from patients in and around the Indian subcontinent to better map out variations in genetic sequencing among the South Asian population. Leveraging a network of over 4,000 hospitals and 10,000 doctors around the world, MedGenome has distributed over 300,000 genetic tests. The company says it has built the largest database of South Asian genetic variants.
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The fresh funding will launch the company out of South Asia and into Africa and the Middle East.
“Breakthroughs and discovery are only as successful as the data on which they’re based,” said Dr. Felix Olale, global co-lead for health care investments at LeapFrog Investments in a statement, “MedGenome’s mission to expand the global genomic dataset to aid in the development of more inclusive and equitable research and drug discovery is not only inspiring, but critical to the future of global healthcare.”
Leveraging the human genome
Scientists envision a genomic sequencing utopia where enough data exists to predict if an otherwise-healthy person is at risk for diseases, allowing patients to receive preventative care early on. Several countries leveraged genomic sequencing to map out COVID-19 outbreaks down to the very person that hosted a new variant.
But the vast majority of genetic testing happens in high-income countries such as those in Europe and North America, leaving a large slice of the population untested. This is dangerous: Any research or patterns derived from a Europe-heavy dataset skews what treatment looks like for everyone.
Genomic sequencing technology is what allowed scientists to create a vaccine against COVID-19 without ever having a sample of it. The technology partially led genomics startups to receive a record $2.3 million in venture funding in 2021, according to Crunchbase data.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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Author: Keerthi Vedantam