Monday, July 21, 2008

Action Biotech: Capitalizing in the Biotech Industry.

Capitalizing in the Biotech Industry

Action Biotech believes in the substantial future potential of stem cell treatments for many serious health conditions. They are venture capitalists who invest strategically in small companies that have promising stem cell capabilities.

Some of the Californian stem cell companies in which they have invested are beginning to show promising results in fields such as somatic cell nuclear transfer, or "personalized stem cell lines" which contain the personal DNA of the patient, thereby eliminating the body's normal immune system rejection, which is one of the limitations of current stem cell treatments.

However, they recognize that this field is a long road, with both progress and set-backs. They believe the field will move ahead more rapidly as the $3 billion from California's much-delayed "Prop 71" stem cell funding bill begins to become available to private companies from 2009 onwards.

Starting up a business in a highly contested field can be challenging. Many entrepreneurs are tempted to copy other businesses with the hope that their venture would manage to do better than the next fellow’s. Only a few have the courage to enter a crowded battlefield with a completely unique offering and change the rules of the game through innovation. One such firm is Acton Biotech (India), competing with thousands of diagnostic laboratories in the country, but making a singular proposition that has made prescribing doctors sit up and take notice.

It would be shocking, but not far from the truth, to know that there had been sick people who died because of inadequate diagnosis and wrongly targeted treatment. Dreaded diseases like cancer call for extreme treatments before which the body could wilt and collapse. So, it is essential to know exactly how much a patient could take before a process such as chemotherapy could be administered.

Modern research has shown that not everyone reacts to medicines the same way. There are people who metabolise the drugs too soon or too late, leading to complications. So, not only the dosage and frequency, even the nature of treatment must be customised to the extent possible.

It was with this objective Sandeep Saxena founded Acton Biotech. His laboratory in Pune and a network of sample collection centres help doctors leverage the power of gene analysis to design chemotherapy and related treatments for cancer patients. The 32-year-old biotechnologist believes a better understanding and use of human genetics could revolutionise the diagnostics business and alter forever the one-size-fits-all prescription that the medical world is used to while treating ailments.

Sandeep Saxena Founder and CEO, Acton Biotech

Asian Institute of Oncology in Mumbai is one of the institutions using Acton’s services. “So far, our practice was based on the assumption that all patients will respond to a drug in a similar manner,” Dr Anupama Borker, paediatric oncologist at the hospital, said. “But some patients would respond very differently from others. Now with these tests, we can stratify patients and tailor the drug according to so that it has maximum benefit and least side effects. We are also testing for the aggressive leukaemia and tumour load. If both these are high, the patient gets a stronger dose, as compared to a patient with a less aggressive leukaemia and low tumour load.”

Typically, a hospital refers a cancer patient to the nearest collection centre where a blood sample is collected. The genetic properties of the sample are analysed at Acton’s Pune lab. “Drugs for treatment of serious diseases like cancer are needed to be washed out of the body and if the patient lacks the required enzymes to wash it away, then it will start accumulating inside the body and prove counter-productive. Therefore, this is exactly why a simple gene test is so important as you can then be give drugs according to the enzymes you have in your system,” Mr Saxena said.

There are some global players in the field such as Mayo Clinic, Prometheus Lab and Quest Diagnostics, none of them is present in India, according to Saxena. Because of the novelty here, “even convincing my team that this project will work was quite difficult. But, now they are as confident about my business as I am,” he said.

“My business is a mix of biotechnology, medicine, pathology and marketing, and I am happy that I am able to maintain the correct balance between each of them. I want to expand it further and get into other major diseases like TB or AIDS. I am confident that very soon, everyone will be able to afford gene therapy and it will be done to cure even the most common diseases like common cold,” Mr Saxena said.

Article Resource:
The article appeared in The Economic Times, Mumbai in one of their successful columns on Entrepreneurship/Start-ups called "Starship Enterprise".
Action Biotech

1 comment:

Mind Body Shop said...

Our minds can shape the way a thing will be because we act according to our expectations.