Indian biotech startup claims breakthrough in early-stage cancer detection

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Tzar Labs, a molecular diagnostic company in coordination with the Mumbai-based Epigeneres Biotechnology, has claimed to have developed a breakthrough blood test for early prognosis/diagnosis of cancer. 

The novel blood test, a first-of-its-kind globally, can help determine whether cancer is absent, imminent, or present, and also detect different stages of the disease, the company says. 

Tzar Labs in a statement said this will pave the way for widespread early detection and treatment of cancer, thereby potentially saving millions of lives. 

The company said that it has done a clinical study involving 1000 subjects, and published its peer-reviewed paper in Stem Cell Reviews and Reports

The core team led by Indian scientists have two major revelations to share – first, the peripheral blood of patients with cancer revealed a large number of VSELs (Very Small Embryonic-Like Stem Cells) compared to those without the disease. The second was the expression of a transcription factor within the cell, known as Oct4a, varying according to the respective stage of cancer.

Tzar Labs said it has pioneered a proprietary technology that can detect organ-level RNA mutations directly from the blood. They added that they have been carrying out extensive research on marker genes and found the key molecular indicator of cancerous conditions. 

The company has filed for patents in the US, Europe, Japan, China, and Singapore among other countries.

"We are delighted to announce that our team of Indian scientists have made this significant breakthrough that will change the way we address, understand, detect and treat all kinds of cancers. We can detect cancer earlier than known technologies when the disease is infinitely more treatable. What we will provide is better information to oncologists, for making treatment-related decisions, and thus saving lives," Ashish Tripathi, Founder and CEO of Tzar Labs, said.

According to Dr Stephen Abbs, a Genomics Consultant and former Director of Genetics Laboratory at Cambridge University Hospitals' NHS Foundation Trust, "This marker has the ability to become a powerful screening and diagnostic test for cancer, particularly if it can work on all cancer types."  

"There is still significant work needed before it can translate into an accepted diagnostic test and a larger study needs to be completed at the earliest opportunity to back up the data in this initial publication. However, if proven to be as reliable at detecting cancer as described in this study, this non-invasive test has the ability to dramatically alter how the medical community approaches cancer diagnosis," Dr Abbs added.