Lord’s Mark Industries New Sickle Cell Anaemia Test At 1/10th Of Market Price

Lord's Mark Industries will invest Rs 25 crore to develop and distribute the technology-enabled POS equipment, targeting revenue of Rs 100 crore by the years 2026–27.

In a landmark initiative in the field of sickle cell anaemia, Lord's Mark Industries has partnered with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) for sickle cell testing in India with the first-ever AI-enabled POS equipment in the country, patented by IIT Bombay.

Lord's Mark Industries will invest Rs 25 crore to develop and distribute the technology-enabled POS equipment, targeting revenue of Rs 100 crore by the years 2026–27. The company delineated that it will address challenges associated with sickle cell testing, making it more accessible and convenient with its 100 per cent accuracy so far.

The estimated price of the kit is around Rs 120. Speaking on the affordability of the kit, Manav Teli, Executive Director, Lord's Mark Industries, told Businessworld, "The average cost for proper detection and conformity to sickle cell anaemia in the country is around RS 1200. Contrary to this, our test's cost will be 1/10th of what it is today. At present, the time period required from sample collection to the completion of the test is between 2 to 4 days. Moreover, it will deliver the result within 30 minutes, compared to 24-48 hours."

Innovative technology

In the traditional testing procedure, blood must be extracted from veins for testing, but the IIT Bombay-patented microfluidic technology only needs a droplet of blood from a needle prick to do the test.

High-performance liquid chromatography is the process currently used in testing to check for sickle cells by examining the blood. This procedure requires shipping blood samples to a central lab in big cities, which raises the cost and lengthens the testing process. 

Lord's Mark Industries will use its in-house R&D team to manufacture the sickle cell POS instrument at its IVD manufacturing facility in Vasai. The equipment will be available in government healthcare centres, pathology labs, and Lord's Mark Industries' pathology labs throughout the country.  

Government's measures

In the union budget of FY 2023-24, government announced to launch a mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047. The mission entails focus on awareness creation, universal screening of approximately seven crore people in the 0-40 years age group in affected tribal areas and counselling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments.  

The Indian government has taken measures to improve sickle cell anaemia detection and treatment in central and southern regions such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Telangana.

Its measures include newborn screening, a national eradication campaign, clinical trials, and premarital counselling protocols. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has circulated advisories, and Rs. 60 crore has been released to the states seeking grants to tackle the disease, including screening. 

Company's investments

Commenting on the collaboration, Mr. Sachidanand Upadhyay, Founder, Lord’s Mark Industries, added, "Through this collaboration with IIT-B, Lord's Mark Industries is committed to providing innovative and effective solutions to sickle cell testing across India, especially in rural regions. We are also investing in the establishment of 1000 pathology labs across the country, with an initial investment of Rs. 50 crore, to provide easy access to sickle cell testing and other healthcare services. With the support of the Central Government, we aim to make equipment and testing available across government healthcare centres and hospitals." 

In terms of numbers, 2 million people are suffering from sickle cell anaemia in India, as per the census done in 2015. Furthermore, it is assumed that 5 to 8 per cent of the population at any point in time is sickle cell anaemic. This was stated by Manav Teli while addressing the media.

"There is a huge population that is yet to be detected. Our investment of 50 crores will go in two forms, first, in setting up 1000 testing centres, and second, in ensuring that the manufacturing site is able to churn out valuable testing kits," conveyed Teli to Businessworld.  

The company's IVD production facility in Vasai, close to Mumbai, has the capacity to produce 50,000 tests. It is also investing an additional 50 crore to open 1,000 pathology labs for screening across India, along with a focused 200-member sales team. 

Need for social awareness

The company stated that it will reach out to gynaecologists and paediatricians to recommend its screening test for all pregnant women and people who are doing family planning. Further, it will partner with the government and social organisations across the country to create awareness.  

Vital contribution by IIT Bombay

The microscopy-based test developed by renowned Prof. Debjani Paul and her team from the Dept. of Biosciences & Bioengineering at IIT-B can distinguish between healthy, sickle trait, and sickle anaemia blood samples at the point of care.  

The collaboration between IIT-B and Lord's Mark Industries will provide improved disease diagnosis and management for patients across the country at the point of primary care itself, thereby reducing costs and enabling convenience for the affected population.

"We are excited to collaborate with Lord's Mark Industries to introduce our licenced AI-enabled sickle cell testing technology in India. Our technology is a game changer in tackling sickle cell screening challenges in the affected regions. We believe that our technology combined with Lord's Mark Industries capabilities will make a significant impact on improving the lives of millions of patients suffering from sickle cell anaemia in the country," said Dr. Oshin Sharma, Researcher, IIT Bombay.

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