Molbio Diagnostics looking to expand test menu on its Truenat platform
Goa-based Molbio Diagnostics, which came up with a portable, battery operated RT-PCR point of care testing system that revolutionised India’s Covid-19 testing in the hinterland, is now planning to develop a plethora of tests to fuel its future growth.
Chandrasekhar Nair, Director and CTO, Molbio Diagnostics tells Business Standard that the platform can do 40 different kinds of tests now, and there are another 30 tests in the pipeline.
Covid-19 has given a big push to this young molecular diagnostic company – its revenues grew from Rs 52 crore in FY20 to Rs 1,252 crore in FY21 riding on the pandemic demand. Nair adds that their production capacity in years 2019-20 was around 20,000 tests per day, which is currently scaled to 300,000 tests per day.
“If I talk about the current year, we are growing healthily. In the previous years 2020 and 2021, the focus was primarily on Covid-19 as the pandemic was at its peak. However, as the situation is getting under control, Truenat being a multi-disease testing platform, the focus has shifted to other diseases. Our platforms are approved to test over 30 diseases, and we are constantly expanding the scale,” Nair elaborates.
In FY22 the revenues came down to Rs 850 crore as the demand for Covid19 testing waned. “Our multi-disease strategy continues, and we aim to do better than last year in FY23,” Nair adds.
The company is also open to raising funds and has been in talks with PE and VC funds for the same.
Molbio’s point of care RT-PCR testing system is already being used by India’s TB elimination programme, and a large number of Truenat machines are deployed across the country already. This helps in detecting infections in remote areas like villages etc. The Truenat platform has pre-qualification from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be part of its plan for TB eradication.
It was one of the first screening tests for Covid19 or the Sars-CoV-2 virus to be approved by the Government of India. The platform is also validated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to be the point of care test for Nipah virus.
Molbio has developed a chip-based workstation platform that has a sample preparation unit, an RNA extraction system, an RT-PCR machine and other disposable kit components. Results are available within an hour or so. It is basically a laboratory in a suitcase.
Thus the machine is deployed in remote areas. Already some 5,000 Truenat machines are deployed in various parts of India, and of this over 2600 would be in government healthcare facilities.
Molbio’s focus is to continue to add more tests to its menu. Nair says, “If a molecular diagnostic test is available at the first point of contact between a patient and the healthcare system, then we believe that the platform should have as many tests as possible to offer.” This is why it has developed tests for diseases like monkeypox, Nipah, which are not high volume, but they are part of the pandemic preparedness plan.
The PCR testing market has grown since the pandemic. The global PCR testing market is estimated to grow at an 8.5 percent CAGR from $9.98 bn in 2021 to $13.82 bn in 2025.