Premas Life Sciences is a knowledge driven boutique partner for a range of specialized technologies in the field of Life sciences viz Genomics, Cell Biology, bio banking and other related applications. The company prides itself in establishing concepts in the nascent markets which became industry norms eventually.
Yash Ved from NewsBarons provides highlights of an interaction with Praveen Gupta, Executive Director, Premas Life Sciences who informed ‘Healthcare in India is poised for continued modernisation by adopting newer technologies’.
NB: Brief us about your business model?
Praveen: We started our journey over 12 years back with Illumina, the world leader in genomics. Since then we have added multiple disparate and well differentiated technology brands like Fluidigm, Acea Bioscience, Covaris, Hamilton, Trinean, Biomatrica, Askion, Advance Analytical Technologies, Advanced Biological Laboratories, Unchained Labs and many more.
Not only are we representing these global technology companies in India but are also partnering and developing locally relevant panels/contents with key academic and private players.
NB: What is your overview on healthcare industry?
Praveen: By all estimates and trends, Healthcare seems to be on a growth trajectory. With 70+ % of Healthcare in India being in Private domain, we strongly believe that’s this sector is poised for continued modernisation by adopting newer technologies.
For us specifically we believe the healthcare industry is witnessing two major trends. One is a move from curative to preventative healthcare. Instead of waiting for the disease to take over it is better via holistic measure including diet, exercise , pharmacogenomics and mental health related interventions. An interdisciplinary approach towards preventative healthcare is required to curb burgeoning healthcare costs and load on limited healthcare resources. Many countries are adopting this for wiser health economic policies in longer run saving hospitalisation costs or reduced costs of ADR’s.
For example preventative healthcare has specific potential to combat cardio vascular disease, which claimed over 17.7 million lives in 2015 (as per WHO). Using Genetic markers, one can screen some of the high risk individuals for various complex disorders and an early intervention or preventive approach can be adopted. Similarly in the reproductive genomic health space, Non-invasive Prenatal testing is poised for growth as its being majorly adopted worldwide for screening Genetic diseases early in the pregnancy.
The other trend is towards precision/personalized medicine. This means tailoring the drug to the patient profile based on their genomics makeup. Cancer which claimed over 8.8 million lives in 2015 (as per WHO) and cancer survival rates have increased significantly over the last two decades. Targeted therapies, Companion diagnostics, improved risk stratification and significant advances in diagnostic tools has moved the ticker on cancer to survival rates of as high as 70% from just 50% before. Most new drugs come with companion Dx assays for better prognostic value. This will yield higher dividends once we have a large population specific Genome sequencing data available from India. Similarly a significant growth is seen in metagenomics which is finding a lot of takers wrt role of microbial population in human health .
NB: Brief us about your plans going forward?
Praveen: We see an immense potential in healthcare and Agribio domains and hence are investing significant resources to educate the medical community and patients around the efficacy of genomics in the clinical space. Since one cannot directly use the genetic markers that have been developed/associated for the Caucasian population, we need translation of local Research findings onto effective Diagnostic and prognostic panels. We plan to provide convergence of healthcare providers with key genomics research institutes across the country for locally relevant content and validation.
We are also employing more and more resources into Agrigenomics. Our specific focus is towards helping apply Genetic based marker assisted selective breeding in livestock breeds thereby targeting milk production along with other economically important traits . The same approach is also applied in selecting the right seed varieties of India to increase yields from constrained arable land.
NB: What are the current trends in the Indian genomics?
Praveen: We see an upward trend of high throughput genomics being adopted by both academic research institutes as well as for profit entities like path labs/hospitals/Seed companies/food testing labs/pharma…..etc.
There is a significant move to capture more data around the Indian population while replicating research and diagnostic outcomes from the rest of the world.
In Human health, we have Genome Asia a large multicentre project to sequence whole genomes of about 100k Asians for better precision medicine outcomes. Similarly an India centric Genome India project has been announced with a specific focus on Northeast Indian population to be sequenced.
While complex diseases and oncology are traditional hotbeds for HT genomics, we are also witnessing genomics playing a large role in Infectious diseases arena. Some of the examples are using genomics in sequencing Tb causing mycobacterium and differentiating MDR/XDR Tuberculosis. Large projects are underway to genotype the clinical isolates of TB bacteria strains active in India and based on that data develop specific treatment regimens to combat TB. Another trend we see coming is given India’s disease burden for cardio vascular disease (CVD) genomics based identification and risk stratification of people with a family history of CVD can take preventative steps to prevent the onset of heart disease. On the reproductive front we are seeing increased uptake for Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) due to increasing pregnancies above the age of 30 and Pre-implantation Genetic Testing/Dx (PGT/PGD) due to increasing utilization of IVF for birthing.
We are also expecting that bio-pharma should adopt NGS in the QC of their batches for contamination soon.
NB: Brief us about your Financials?
Praveen: We are talking about our year on the annual basis. This year proved to be an year mixed when considering the total revenues of the company.
PREMAS has clocked turnover of 20 million USD so far for the financial year 2017. The turnover for this year was on lower side as against expectations due to certain internal as well external market factors. Although we are expecting a huge growth in the upcoming years.
NB: What is your growth target for FY18?
Praveen: Looking at the growth drivers, we have set a lofty target for ourselves and a 21% year on year growth.
NB: Are you in race for bigger contracts of multi-sample genome re-sequencing projects?
Praveen: We work as a channel partner for companies like Illumina and do not compete with our service providers and hence these projects are driven by genomic service providers & diagnostic centers that we have enabled. Having said that we are aware of some very large projects with tens of thousands of samples requiring population genomic based sequencing/ metagenomics/ infectious diseases / Agbio etc.
NB: Are you eyeing for collaboration with international companies for global expansion?
Praveen: We plan to operate out of the subcontinent in the near future but with extensive growth and opportunities in the space regional expansion are definitely possible. We will continue identifying new trends in the Life Science domain and partner with new and upcoming technologies.
NB: What is your revenue mix?
Praveen: Our Revenue mix is mainly 85% coming from Genomics based technologies and 15% from Non genomics areas like Cell biology and automation.