Goa-based Molbio Diagnostics, which revolutionised India's Covid-19 screening with an innovative portable and battery-operated real-time RT PCR point of care (PoC) testing system, is eyeing to become a one-billion-dollar revenue company in the next 3-5 years, by globally selling 2-3 such disease surveillance platforms for various diseases.
The Molbio Diagnostics' RT-PCR PoC testing system helps in detecting infection in remote and rural villages. "There is an increasing demand for point-of-care molecular testing in India and across the world, to meet the critical need for reliable technologies that can enable early and accurate diagnosis and we see this as an opportunity," Sriram Natarajan, founder director and CEO of Molbio Diagnostics told Business Today.
Now its Truenat platform can detect 28 diseases and research and development is underway to expand and launch tests for 40 more diseases. The global point of care diagnostics and testing market size was valued at $27.66 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.25% from 2021 to 2028, says a Grand View Research report. India is expected to have a demand of 100 million diagnostics tests a year in the coming years, says Sriram Natarajan.
Before starting Molbio, Sriram Natarajan, with over three decades of experience in developing, manufacturing and marketing diagnostic devices and kits, had founded Tulip Diagnostics, one of the largest lab testing reagent making companies in India in 1989.
In January 2017, Tulip Diagnostics was sold to US-based global diagnostics major PerkinElmer. Bangalore-based Bigtec Labs, the Research and Development wing of Molbio Diagnostics since 2000, is headed by Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Chandrasekhar Nair, a specialist in bioprocess modelling, scale-up and commercial implementation of bio and chemical processes.
The four-year-old Molbio started a new manufacturing unit in July for its innovative molecular diagnostic platform 'Truenat Real-Time PCR', spread across 1,35,000 square feet in Verna, Goa. The unit was set up in nine months to increase its production capacity by five times to 3.5 lakh units per day from the earlier 70,000 units per day. From a turnover of Rs 11 crore in 2017-18 in the first year of operation, the company has grown to a Rs 1,300 crore plus revenue firm in 2020-21, of which over 70 per cent revenues coming post-Covid-19.
Originally developed to screen tuberculosis in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had earlier validated the Truenat platform for tuberculosis screening. It also got pre-qualification from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be part of its plan to eradicate TB worldwide. It was also validated by ICMR-NIV as a point of care test for the Nipah virus. In April last year, Molbio Diagnostics developed Truenat Real-Time PCR for Covid-19 and it was among the first screening tests approved by the government in India. So far, it has deployed over 4,000 units, including 2,600 in government healthcare facilities, mainly catering to rural and hilly areas that lack adequate healthcare facilities.
Molbio's chip-based workstation platform includes sample preparation, an RNA extraction system, an RT-PCR machine, and disposable kit components. This laboratory-in-a-suitcase kit can be used in remote areas and has network data transferability and an automated reporting system. Samples can be collected with minimum biosafety and biosecurity requirements. Results can be made available within one hour. The machine is available in three sizes with the capacity to test one, two, and four samples. The cost of the machine is also comparatively much less than that of normal RT-PCR machines and competition is limited to a US-based company that sells a similar product in a limited manner in India.
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