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Increased demand for Molecular diagnostics after the COVID-19 outbreak

Before the pandemic, Real-Time PCR (RT PCR) was considered a very niche technology that only a handful of labs around the country could use. COVID-19 challenged our diagnostics industry to rapidly build their capabilities to a point where we have over 3000+ testing laboratories in India alone that perform molecular testing.

Increased demand for Molecular diagnostics after the COVID-19 outbreak
Orange Health is an on-demand diagnostic company. (File)

By Amit Chopra

The field of molecular diagnostics has witnessed a period of rapid development and growth in the last decade. The introduction of new technologies and the implementation of highly accurate tests into clinical testing protocols have been pivotal in advancing the field of precision medicine.

The pandemic has dramatically accelerated this growth, and this momentum is likely to continue into the post-pandemic phase. As per industry sources, the global molecular diagnostics market size was valued at USD 36.2 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.9% from 2021 to 2028. Likewise, the Indian molecular diagnostics market stood at an estimated USD 920 million in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 10% till FY 2026.

The rapid spread of Covid has led to an expansion of the Molecular diagnostics testing infrastructure in the country. Furthermore, government initiatives to increase healthcare funding to improve the country’s molecular diagnostics capabilities will also positively impact the market in the coming years. Other influencing factors include higher demand for Point of Care (PoC) diagnostics, a rising elderly population, and a sustained increase in infectious diseases.

Rising Demand for Point of Care (PoC) Diagnostics

Point of care diagnostics solutions has emerged as a significant driver for the advancement of molecular diagnostics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leading diagnostic companies have adopted advanced technologies like AI to deliver products that could make testing faster and more accurate. A rapid POC test based on gold standard RTPCR technology, Acula has revolutionized rapid and accurate Covid testing worldwide. The platform will also be used to scale and develop point-of-care tests for other infectious diseases in the future. With the onset of many other smart technologies which leverage IoT, AI and ML, we will likely see more innovative products for chronic and lifestyle conditions, including oncology.

New growth drivers including Government Initiatives

Before the pandemic, Real-Time PCR (RT PCR) was considered a very niche technology that only a handful of labs around the country could use. COVID-19 challenged our diagnostics industry to rapidly build their capabilities to a point where we have over 3000+ testing laboratories in India alone that perform molecular testing. With RT PCR, viral amplification, and genome sequencing becoming mainstream, the field of molecular diagnosis is set to be revolutionized. In addition, government funds and grants for developing novel products are also fueling the adoption of advanced technologies for infectious diseases diagnosis. In support of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Thermo Fisher Scientific introduced a manufacturing facility in Bengaluru, which produces CoviPath RT-PCR testing kits and MagMAX Dx Prefilled Viral/Pathogen Nucleic Acid Isolation kits that deliver faster, more precise, and easy-to-use Covid testing solutions.

Market expansion in new areas of science and research

Thermo Fisher Scientific mobilized its range of resources by making strategic investments fueling exciting opportunities in cell and gene therapy, companion diagnostics, liquid biopsy, direct-to-consumer, and more through product introductions, partnerships, and facility expansions.

Advancements in the field of Precision Medicine

The global understanding and practice of medicine are currently undergoing a revolutionary change. The shift to precision medicine means moving healthcare from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more targeted approach, where decisions are informed by each individual’s unique clinical, molecular, and lifestyle information. Globally, we are closely working with the precision medicine community and helping advance this revolution in diagnosis and treatment by leveraging our global infrastructure and expertise to provide industry-leading capabilities, from population profiling to targeted therapeutics.

Wider adoption of precision medicine will usher in a new era for healthcare and diagnostics where patients receive the care they need, especially for life-threatening conditions.

A step in this direction is precision oncology using next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology that accelerates targeted therapy treatment selection and improves patient outcomes. NGS is involved throughout the development continuum for targeted treatments – from translational research to companion diagnostics testing — and has enabled personalized oncology to improve patient outcomes.

Molecular Diagnostics: Paving a new path for treatments

Molecular diagnostics is one of the most dynamic and transformative areas leading to advances in prognosis, research, and treatment. The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of this sector. With the support of academia, government, industry, and private companies, the field of molecular diagnostics is now set to enter a new phase that will unveil new-generation technology for modern-day practice and improved outcomes for patients.

(The author is Managing Director, India and South Asia, Thermo Fisher Scientific. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)

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