Indian genomics lab MedGenome puts $10M toward 100K genome project in South Asia

Unlike massive government-backed whole genome sequencing projects ongoing in the United States and Europe, a similar effort in South Asia is relying entirely on an alliance of for-profit companies and academia to support its GenomeAsia 100K project that seeks to do whole genome sequencing on 100,000 people in the region. Now, startup MedGenome has said it will kick in $10 million toward the effort to become a founding member.

MedGenome said it's the largest privately owned next-generation sequencing lab in India. It came out of SciGenom Labs in Cochin, India. In 2013, it became a separate company based in Narayana Health City, Bangalore. It's since added offices in San Francisco, CA and Boston.

The venture-backed company isn't exactly rolling in cash itself--making the $10 million commitment a major one that it views as an investment in future work that the project will generate for it. It's had $24 million in venture financing from investors including Sequoia Capital, Papillon Capital and Emerge Ventures, according to the MedGenome site.

MedGenome Chief of Global Products and Services Dr. Kartik Kumaramangalam

"Nearly a quarter of the world's population live in South Asia whose genetics we are only now beginning to characterize," said MedGenome Chief of Global Products and Services Dr. Kartik Kumaramangalam in a statement. GenomeAsia 100K "has a unique opportunity to make an impact not just to South Asians but to healthy living globally."

There are thousands of distinct ethnic groups in South Asia with a high level of genetic homogeneity, the company noted. As part of GenomeAsia 100K, MedGenome will assist with collecting genomic, clinical and familial data. It will also apply its analytics in an effort to interpret the massive big data generated by it.

"This is the only large population sequencing initiative that is a consortium of for-profit companies and academia," said MedGenome founder and CEO Sam Santhosh. "Combining academic rigor with the aggressive timelines and execution focus of for-profit companies will ensure the success of this consortium."

- here is the announcement