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Roadmap 2020 — Molecular diagnostics in oncology

We will soon be opening Babina Specialty Hospital, which will have a dedicated oncology unit. It will be in the form of a simulated joint venture with Cancer Treatment Services Private Limited, Hyderabad, more popularly known under its brand name, American Oncology Institute (AOI).

The center will provide the full range of oncology related services in the area of surgical, medical and radiation oncology. In addition this hospital will also provide services in oncology related areas such as medical GI, surgical GI, urology, ENT, pulmonology, and the like.

One of the long-cherished dreams of our company has been the promotion of a state-of-the-art oncology center. Our flagship unit, Babina Diagnostics has been a forerunner in the field of medical diagnostics in Northeast India and a leading healthcare brand in this part of the part of the country for the past three decades or so. The advantage of being a leading medical diagnostics service center for many years has been our knowledge of the diseases and their prevalence among the people of this region.

The average reported cancer incidences in the Northeast are 150-200 cases per 100,000 population as against the national average of 80-110. Most cancer patients have to travel outside the Northeast for treatment and care due to an inadequate number of specialized oncology facilities. Reports suggest that nearly 4 percent of the cancer cases detected in Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) are patients from the Northeast. The lack of facilities and the difficult terrain of most parts of the Northeast region are major impediments for the people in getting timely intervention and therapy that also results in low compliance of treatment.

The hospital aims to provide quality care that caters to the primary catchment area of Manipur and its neighboring states and also to patients from Myanmar. This would include a distinct focus on patient-centric services, besides the latest technological solutions both from the medical equipment perspective and managerial expertise. It will be our company’s endeavor to ensure a clear competitive advantage over facilities in the target area in terms of infrastructure, specialists, and successful treatments. We will strive to achieve the position of the first-choice of patients who till now have been availing treatment facilities outside the state.

Our primary focus this year as regards to procurement will be molecular diagnostics. We plan to upgrade the molecular biology section of our laboratory by going beyond PCR. We already have two PCR units and have been carrying out pyrosequencing in our laboratory for the past three years. In line with our hospital vision, our interest for the moment would be molecular diagnostics for cancer. This is an exciting area and we have been closely following the technology and market trends.

Molecular diagnostics has demonstrated the highest diagnostic accuracy within the field of in vitro diagnostics. The diagnostic market for leukemia and lymphoma is one of the fastest growing. Initially, there were reservations about its commercial viability because of the relatively small market size in our region and the overall affordability of the patients.

However, with our own oncology hospital opening, it is only imperative that we strive for providing the best diagnostic solutions for the patients of this region. We are going for next-generation sequencing, and we have already initiated toward the procurement of the right equipment for this. At the moment, technology trends suggest that the molecular diagnostics in oncology will have far-reaching impact on cancer diagnostics and treatment. We plan to provide a broad portfolio of assays for clinical diagnosis, predictive diagnosis, and disease monitoring.
The author is Managing Director, Babina Diagnostics

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