SN Gene Lab
Strengthening Genomic Sequencing Capacity
As on August 2023
COVID-19/non-COVID-19 samples analyzed using advanced genomic sequencing technology
- PAN India
– 60%reduction in
the cost of sequencing.
– 7000+genomic sequencing
tests to be conducted.
Dr. Salil N Vaniawala Director, SN Genelab Pvt Ltd.
When the second wave of the pandemic hit the country with threatening variants of COVID-19, SN Gene Lab was facing a lack of sufficient funds to initiate the much-needed Illumina next generation sequencing (NGS) services. At this point, the financial support from USAID-supported SAMRIDH made a distinct difference and helped us in establishing the COVID-19 variant surveillance protocol by acquiring the coveted NovaSeq 6000 System – NGS Platform & related tools. The support further contributed to create a pool of tech professionals trained in genome sequencing technology. The financial support from the SAMRIDH Initiative also allowed us to leverage the platform procured, by providing state of the art and high-quality oncology solutions to vulnerable/low-income communities at a lower cost.
The blended finance structure designed by SAMRIDH enabled SN Gene to avail a loan from a banking institution to meet 70% of the capital expenditure. The balance 30% was funded through internal accruals. Further, SAMRIDH’s support in the form of performance-linked payments is helping the entity in meeting the operating expenditure in the initial phase of the project ensuring it achieves financial sustainability. Moreover, the next-generation sequencing (NGS) facility created with SAMRIDH’s support can be used for a variety of COVID, Non-COVID sample testing, which will make it possible for SN Gene to expand its business offerings and achieve long-term sustainability. In addition, to meet the immediate working capital requirement SAMRIDH also supported with Returnable Grants through the grant pool.
The biggest challenge India faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more specifically during the catastrophic second wave caused by the Delta variant, was the inability to carry out genomic sequencing of the coronavirus. As on September 2, 2021, India had sequenced a meagre 0.2 percent of its cumulative cases even though the government had set a target of 5% of positive samples to be sequenced. Due to the sub-par capacity to test adequately and identify new virus strains, timely assessment of the transmissibility, and pathogenicity of the Delta variant could not be understood.
Next-generation sequencing technology – Illumina Novaseq 6000
SN deployed the next-generation sequencing technology – Illumina Novaseq 6000 which is an efficient and quick solution to identify new coronavirus strains and other novel pathogens, support in tracking the transmission routes of the virus globally, and detect mutations quickly. These capabilities can support in preventing the spread of new strain types, identifying viral mutations that can avoid detection by established molecular diagnostic assays and affect vaccine potency, and in screening targets for possible COVID-19 therapeutics. They can also help in identifying and characterising respiratory co-infections and antimicrobial resistance.