OncoStem Diagnostics, an oncology-focused cancer diagnostics startup, has raised $6 Mn in a funding round led by Sequoia India. Existing investor Artiman Ventures also participated in the round. OncoStem is focused on personalised cancer treatment planning through the development of tests that predict the chance of recurrence in patients.
Earlier this month Sequoia also participated in the $30 Mn in Series C funding of Bengaluru-based genomics research and diagnostics company MedGenome. n June 2017, US-based venture capitalist Sequoia Capital raised $4 Bn funding, as per the latest SEC filings.
OncoStem will use the newly raised funds to deepen its R&D efforts, develop effective tests for oral, brain and colon cancer and automate these tests. Apart from this, the company will focus to expand its presence in India and introduce the test in new markets in Asia as well as Europe.
Anjana Sasidharan, Principal, Sequoia Capital India Advisors, said, “OncoStem is filling a critical need gap and helping spare thousands of patients from severe chemotherapy, the associated toxic effects and the costs. The technology and pricing can fundamentally change patient access to such cutting edge tests, which have been prohibitively expensive in most markets globally so far. Also, the biomarkers discovered through OncoStem’s predictive analysis of cancer recurrence will help pharma companies in developing new targeted drugs.”
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Bengaluru-headquartered OncoStem Diagnostics was founded in 2011. Their lead product ‘CanAssist-Breast’, claims to help close to 50% of patients to avoid the severe side-effects of unnecessary chemotherapy. Patients can update their details and request a test report, after paying the fees on its website itself.
Manjiri Bakre, founder and CEO, OncoStem Diagnostics said, “Cancer treatment has been continuously evolving with new research and oncologists have realised that a one-size-fits-all approach to cancer patients is not conducive. However, there are no affordable tests in India to accurately predict the risk of cancer recurrence. We aim to develop innovative and cost-effective tests that will help predict and assess the risk of recurrence in cancer patients, thus providing doctors with an actionable blueprint for personalised treatments.”
OncoStem’s flagship product ‘CanAssist-Breast’, is a robust and cost-effective ‘Morphometric ImmunoHistoChemistry’ (mIHC) test. It can predict the risk of recurrence for HR+ breast cancer patients from Stage 1 up to Stage 3A. Currently, it is available in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
In addition to CanAssist-Breast, OncoStem will soon launch another test for patients suffering from Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). While tumors of this category are generally aggressive in nature, not all patients have a high risk of recurrence and may not require severe and multiple rounds of chemotherapy to combat it. Currently there aren’t any concrete tests to determine the severity of TNBC. OncoStem claims that its new test, which will be introduced by the end of 2018, will assess the severity of the cancer and help in planning the appropriate treatment procedure for the patient.
As per a WHO, Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 Mn deaths (around 13% of all deaths) in 2008. Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue to rise to over 13.1 Mn in 2030. Presently in India, it is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Many cancers are preventable by controlling the modifiable risk factors such as tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, amongst others. In addition, a significant proportion of cancers can be cured, by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, especially if they are detected early.
Other startups that are working in the oncology and cancer diagnostics space include Ratan Tata-backed cancer therapeutic startup, Invictus Oncology, Celon Labs, iGenetics Diagnostics, etc. With the recent round of funding from Sequoia Capital, oncology and cancer diagnostics firm OncoStem will focus on launching the new product as well as expansion into new markets in Southeast Asia.