Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s group is getting into genetic mapping, looking to make a health care trend led by disruptive US startups like 23andMe more affordable and widespread in India’s growing consumer market.
The energy-to-ecommerce conglomerate will roll out within weeks a comprehensive 12,000-rupee ($145) genome sequencing test, according to Ramesh Hariharan, chief executive officer of Strand Life Sciences Pvt., which has developed the product. Reliance Industries Ltd., led by Asia’s richest person, acquired the Bengaluru-based firm in 2021 and now owns about 80% of it.
The genome test, which is about 86% cheaper than other offerings available locally, can reveal a person’s predisposition to cancers, cardiac and neuro-degenerative ailments as well as identify inherited genetic disorders, he said.
The project to bring affordable personal gene-mapping to India’s 1.4 billion people — on track to be the world’s most populous nation — will potentially create a treasure trove of biological data that can aid drug development and disease prevention in the region. It also dovetails with Ambani’s ambitions to dive further into the world of data — he has often called it the “new oil” — as he pivots his $192 billion empire beyond refining into consumer and digital services.
“It’ll be the cheapest such genomic profile in the world,” Hariharan said, who also co-founded Strand Life Sciences. “We’re going out at an aggressive price point to drive adoption as it gives us a chance to build a viable business in preventive health care.”
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Although the figures of wealth and income disparities are already staggering in wealthier Western countries, they are significantly worse in countries like India and China. One instance that clearly depicts the disparity is the fact that an average Indian would need to work 17 million years to become as wealthy as Mukesh Ambani.
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