Dr Manjiri M Bakre

In the wake of rising cases of cancer recurrence across the country, OncoStem’s novel product has proved to be a big boon. CanAssist-Breast, is an innovative test to predict the risk of cancer recurrence in early-stage breast cancer patients, says Dr Manjiri M Bakre, CEO and Founder, OncoStem Diagnostics Pvt Ltd, in an interview with Sudheer Goutham of Elets News Network (ENN).

Q: Give us an overview of your organisation.

OncoStem Diagnostics founded in 2011 is a Bengaluru based oncology Diagnostics Company funded by venture capitalist. Our goal is to develop innovative tests using robust technologies to improve cancer treatment planning. OncoStem Diagnostics’ CAP and ISO 15189/ NABL accredited laboratory, maintains international quality of work. We focus on developing tests for different types of cancers, including oral and ovarian.

Q: Shed some light on your flagship product Can Assist-Breast.

Can Assist-Breast, an innovative test which we have developed, validated and marketed in India, can predict risk of cancer recurrence in early-stage breast cancer patients. It’s useful for early-stage breast cancer patients with hormone receptor positive and Her2 receptor negative disease that constitute about 40-50 percent of total breast cancer patients. It is a cost-effective alternative to the Western tests.

Three out of four patients diagnosed with early-stage cancer may not benefit from chemotherapy. With our product, both doctors and patients get to know about the risk of cancer recurrence for a patient. This information along with other clinical parameters can be used to plan chemotherapy treatment. We help clinicians formulate personalised therapeutic programmes for their patients.

Also read: 75% Indian women shy away from breast cancer screening: Survey

Q: What are the significant features of the product, how it provides an edge in the area of cancer care?

Routine tests can tell about the disease prognosis of patient based on expression of gold standard biomarkers. While they are useful they don’t give information about in depth biology of tumour beyond presence of hormone receptors and proliferative capacity. The size of the tumour doesn’t determine whether it will come back or not.

Biology of the tumour is critical in predicting cancer recurrence. Can Assist-Breast looks into multiple cell signalling pathways and biomarkers involved in tumor recurrence other than proliferation. Additionally, it is developed and validated on more than 1300 Indian patients which gives it the edge over competing Western tests which are neither developed nor validated on Indian patients. CanAssist-Breast is ISO 13485 accredited, and CE-IVD marked. Along with the existing pathology report, this test result can help in identifying the likelihood of the cancer returning post-surgery. It also provides an idea whether the patient will benefit from chemotherapy along with hormone therapy.

In Western countries, such tests are available but they are costly for our patients. We make available a similar test at a much lesser cost to the patients while keeping the quality intact.

Q: What sort of collaboration are you aiming for in the Government and private sector?

We are looking at different segments for collaborations. Firstly, hospital collaborations for the purpose of developing additional tests in cancer care. Secondly, OncoStem aims to collaborate with nationwide distributors to market its product. Finally, we also aim for collaborations with insurance companies, both private, third party and Government schemes such as Ayushman Bharat Yojana (PMJAY) which is an important insurance scheme rolled out recently by the government. If our test is adopted under PMJAYscheme, it can help our country to save around Rs 100 crore per year.

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