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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Bharatiya startup makes breakthrough in early cancer detection through a simple blood test

Mumbai-based Epigeneres Biotech Private Limited in partnership with Singapore-based Tzar Labs have developed a blood test called HrC that provides early detection of cancer as well as predicts imminent cancer.

Epigeneres and Tzar Labs are both led by Bharatiya scientist Dr. V K Tripathi and his sons Ashish and Anish Tripathi. They have multiple discoveries and patents under their belt

Having completed a clinical study involving 1000 subjects, they found that blood tests can help determine whether cancer is absent, imminent, or present, and also detect different stages of the disease! A first-of-its-kind globally, this discovery has the ability to rapidly change the way the medical community approaches cancer diagnosis. This should replace the whole organ biopsy being used now with a simple blood test. That in turn will ensure widespread early detection and treatment of cancer, thereby potentially saving millions of lives. 

What their scientists found is that 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. They noted the expression of a transcription factor called Oct4a within the cell that varies according to the respective stage of cancer. The HrC test is capable of detecting solid tumours, blood cancers, and sarcomas.

V.K. Tripathi, with sons (from left) Amish, Ashish, Anish, and daughter Bhavana Roy

“We are delighted to announce that our team of Indian scientists has 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.

One of the most exciting things about this new test is that it helps detect cancer early, and even before the tumour starts developing. Cancer, if detected early, doesn’t carry the strength and weight it does in the late stages. “If we catch it early,” says Anish, “the time of treatment, cost of treatment, and likelihood of survival change dramatically. So it will be treated faster, more cheaply”.

Tzar Labs has filed patents in the US, Europe, Japan, China, and Singapore among others for this innovation. Epigeneres is the sole licensee in Bharat for the novel HrC test. Incidentally, novelist Amish Tripathi also belongs to this distinguished family.

Commenting on the development, Dr Deepa Bhartiya, Scientist-G & Head of Stem Cell Biology, ICMR – NIRRH, said, “ I am glad to see breakthrough research like this coming out of India.  This HrC technology is going to revolutionise the way that cancer is treated.  This marker is detecting all cancers earlier than any technology with high specificity when the tumour has not even formed.”

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