India: Sequoia Capital invests $6m in OncoStem Diagnostic

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OncoStem Diagnostics, a Bengaluru-based oncology-focused start-up, has raised $6 million from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital India Advisors, a senior executive of the company said.

Founded by Manjiri Bakre in 2011, OncoStem is focused on personalized cancer treatment planning through the development of tests that try to effectively predict the chance of cancer recurrence in patients.

The start-up raised its first funding from California-based venture capital firm Artiman Ventures in 2011. Artiman invested $3 million in the company in multiple tranches.

“There are no affordable tests in India to accurately predict the risk of cancer recurrence. We aim to develop innovative and cost-effective tests that will help predict and assess the risk of recurrence in cancer patients, thus providing doctors with an actionable blueprint for personalized treatments,” said Bakre.

Currently, the company is focused on breast cancer recurrence detection.

OncoStem will use the funds to deepen its research and development efforts, develop effective tests for oral, brain and colon cancer, and automate these tests.

The company plans to expand its presence in India and introduce tests in new markets like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore, said Bakre.

OncoStem has a central laboratory in Bengaluru, where tumour tissues collected by the distributors in India and neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are tested for different cancer types including oral and colon cancers.

The company is planning to set up another central laboratory in Singapore, added Bakre.

“OncoStem is filling a critical need gap and helping spare thousands of cancer patients from severe chemotherapy, the associated toxic effects and the costs. Also, the biomarkers discovered through OncoStem’s predictive analysis of cancer recurrence will help pharma companies in developing new targeted drugs,” said Anjana Sasidharan, principal at Sequoia Capital India Advisors.

Sequoia Capital has been an active investor in the healthcare sector.

Last month, it led a $30-million investment round in Bengaluru-based genomics diagnostics and research firm MedGenome Labs Pvt. Ltd. In 2015, Sequoia had invested $20 million in the company.

Sequoia is also an investor in Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which owns and operates an online doctor appointments-booking portal. In 2015, it led a $30-million investment round in the company, which also saw the participation of Matrix Partners.

The venture capital firm has also invested in several hospital chains in India. These include ASG Eye Hospitals, Innovcare Lifesciences, Cloud Nine and Vasan Health Care.

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This article was first published on Livemint.com