Apollo Hospitals Group and Tata Medical and Diagnostics (Tata MD), the new healthcare venture of the Tata group, today announced a collaboration to launch TataMD CHECK, the world’s first CRISPR Cas-9 based diagnostic test, across the country.
Both the companies have entered into “commercial partnership”. The financial terms of the tie-up were not disclosed.
Indigenously developed kits will be manufactured at TataMD's facility at Sriperumbudr near Chennai. Initial production capacity is one million units per annum.
Girish Krishnamurthy, CEO & MD, Tata Medical and Diagnostics refused to share investment figures and financials on the commercial agreement.
Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals (AHEL) and MD, Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited (AHLL) said Apollo Hospitals, along with its subsidiary, Apollo Diagnostics will offer the Tata MD CHECK testing in the National Capital Region from the first week of December 2020 and shortly thereafter, it will be rolled out across all major centres including Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune, followed by other cities in the second phase.
She said Apollo will rope in partners in a phased manner to expand in other parts of the country. TataMD said Apollo is the first healthcare institution in the country to adopt the test and it kicks off the efforts of TataMD Check to align with healthcare institutions including hospitals, diagnostic chains and other healthcare facilities.
These kits will not be available for individuals.
“We are not selling tests, we are selling testing solutions,” said Krishnamurthy, adding that the price will be based on the respective state government's guideline. Tata MD will train diagnostic clinicians in the next few weeks.
TataMD CHECK, powered by FELUDA, is the world’s first Covid-19 diagnostic test based on the DNA genome editing tool CRISPR Cas-9. The FELUDA diagnostic technology platform has been developed by Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology (CSIR- IGIB).
TataMD CHECK has been approved by Indian Council of Medical Research and Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). It is a viral detection test with high accuracy and a quick result turnaround time. TataMD claims that these kits can give results in 6-7 hours, as compared to 24-48 hours facilities availability in the market.
During the next few weeks, Apollo Hospitals group will ensure the availability of TataMD Check testing in eight hospitals in phase 1 and the location-wise quantities will be ramped up based on the demand and need for expanding this to other centres.
The primary care clinics and Diagnostics Lab and Collection centre network of Apollo Diagnostics in all these cities will also support the collection, home collection as well as testing to support this initiative.
Apollo Health & Lifestyle Ltd has over 100 Clinics, 75 Labs and over 600 collection centres in 15 states across the country. These will be progressively utilised as needed to enhance the reach and convenience to patients.
Krishnamurthy said the process of collecting patient samples, RNA extraction and amplification remains the same in TataMD CHECK as in other viral detection tests. However, the use of CRISPR-Cas9 Technology ensures quicker results due to a more agile process and AI-based automated result detection methodology, he added.