The IIT Bombay scientist turned entrepreneur is helping to make molecular technology

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In India the person who receives the blood transfusion is three times more at risk for HIV than someone in the US.

The reason? The majority of blood transfusions in the nation use blood units that were tested using the less reliable ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test, instead of the more sensitive test NAT (Nucleic Acid Testing), costing Rs 1,050 per unit of whole Blood. Although molecular tests are available, their expense makes them less effective.

The Bengaluru-based Algorithmic Biologics is working to make this molecular test of the highest quality more readily available.

The company was founded in the year 2000. deep-tech startup has been developing algorithms to perform molecular programming. Its technology functions as an algorithm for compression used in molecular testing, and is used in pharmaceuticals, healthcare agricultural and animal management, food safety, synthetic biology and studies in molecular biology.

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Since the age of 18, Algorithmic Biologics’ founder Dr Manoj Gopalkrishnan has worked as an investigator in molecular computing and was a professor for the last 18 years at IIT Bombay.

The field of Molecular Computing draws insights from computer science to design molecular systems. “Molecular testing of DNA, RNA, protein, and other molecules helps us diagnose diseases, ensure safety of food and environment, discover, prove the efficacy, and ensure the quality of new drugs and new seed varieties,” Manoj explains. Manoj.

The product of the startup “Tapestry” is already providing low-cost screening on the college campuses of Covid19.

at the appropriate moment and at the right at the appropriate time and

As Algorithmic Biologics began to help to scale up the screening process for COVID-19, the seeds were planted in 2009 when Manoj was a professor in TIFR (Tata Institute for Fundamental Research) was informed of the swine influenza epidemic.

He realized that diagnostic testing was becoming a bottleneck that prevented a timely intervention to combat the outbreak.

“That was when I came up with the idea of the idea behind Tapestry. I attempted to find collaborators later to help me develop this concept, but the there was little interest. The COVID-19 announcements began to arrive in the early part of 2020, I attempted again and found an environment that was much more favorable to take this idea forward,” explains Manoj.

At the time of COVID-19 the startup claimed that even a lab that is small with the capacity to run around 100 tests in a day can make use of its technology to for testing up to 1,000 people.

Algorithmic Biologics’ USP, according to its founder is in the AI enabled SaaS service that’s completely independent of the molecular test used in the initial test.

“This area is a greenfield that is ready for a major expansion like the one we’ve witnessed in AI-based medical imaging over the past five years. We have a number of patents in this area which we believe will provide major advantages in the near future. We assume the responsibility of helping and training labs to utilize our software in line with their workflow standard and charge them a portion of the savings that are demonstrated by a sample-by-sample basis.” Manoj. Manoj.

Weaving Tapestry

Imagine that you are looking for a needle inside an haystack. However, there are many haystacks in the area and some have no needles. What if there were an online tool that could assist you in determining which haystacks could have needles?

Tapestry according to the company’s founders is a tool for searching which can to make the task of locating these needles, which are target molecules, easier.

“Our technological innovation Tapestry is a unique molecular search software that can be used when there are a lot of samples to be analyzed and only a few have the molecules of interest. Tapestry adds molecular tests that are gold-standard to identify the few samples that contain the target molecules. This is just a tiny fraction in searches (tests) carried out on different types of samples,” Manoj says. Manoj.

The technology provides three-time tests of each sample, with extremely precise and accurate individual results, for a cost which is less than the cost of each test.

In addition to making blood transfusions more secure, inexpensive molecular tests can assist in reducing newborn mortality.

“Hardly only 2% of babies get an infant screening test, which can lead to 25,000 deaths that could be prevented each year. Foods we consume contain tiny amounts of pesticides, and even heavy metals, causing a lot of damage to our health,” Manoj explains.

What is Tapestry employed?

It’s a software application which runs on cloud servers as a web-based application. The lab is trained on SOPs for the necessary preprocessing, as well as solution support, to ensure that this preprocessing is done efficiently. The preprocessing can achieve a compression of 3X to 10X depending on the volume.

Following that, the labs will run the test according to their current practices. The results of these tests are then uploaded to the app on the internet. The solver is run on the cloud and provides the lab with specific and quantifiable results. The solutions are compatible with multiplexing–simultaneous detection of multiple targets.

Within one year of its inception the startup has received regulatory approvals and tested more than 25,000 samples and signed up five corporate customers.

“We were able to obtain CE certification for diagnostics in vitro within the European Union for our product within a year. We are at the beginning of stages of revenue and have partnered with top names from various industries who use molecular tests in the workflow they employ,” says Manoj.

Algorithmic Biologics, the founder states it has been able to demonstrate that the technology is independent of the molecular test , by showing it is not only used for the qPCR (real-time PCR) but as well for NAT tests and mass spectrometry tests sequencing, etc. using a range of samples ranging from nasal swabs to blood to plant tissue.

Customer base

Algorithmic Biologics’ key customers are diagnostic, research, and industrial labs, which can benefit from increased throughput or volume without having to incur any capital expense.

The company provides “scale multiplication” on their installed capacity by using a software-only system.

Traditionally, such scale multiplication is provided by the automation of hardware, new chemical and biologic technologies or algorithms-based efficiencies that are which are supported by software.

“We are in the third category, which has the advantages of being low capital cost and easy solution delivery through the cloud,” the founder says.

Algorithmic Biologics has 14 team members, of whom five hold PhDs.

Initial R&D was funded through grants and institutional assistance through IIT Bombay. After determining that the research was worthwhile and urgently required for commercialization the team sought out funding via Axilor Labs for making the technology available commercially.

“We have a small portion of these savings to pay for our services. We’ve been able to show positive economics for units at an operational level throughout our projects,” says Manoj.

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