Agilent are to introduce its DNA microarray-based genomics solutions, which improve the productivity of gene-expression and genomics research. Also known as DNA chips or biochips, microarrays are small pieces of glass dotted with thousands of strands of DNA, each of which corresponds to a specific gene in the genome. In a single experiment, microarrays can measure genome-wide differences between diseased and healthy cells.
"Agilent's Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis business had double-digit growth in India last year, driven by the country's biotechnology, agriculture, information technology and pharmaceuticals industries," said Sanjeev Dhar, country manager for the LSCA business in India.
"India is now LSCA's fourth-largest country of business in Asia, and one of the fastest-growing. We expect this growth to continue," he added.
Demand for Agilent's life science technologies is expected to be fuelled by the Indian government's Draft National Biotechnology Policy. The strategy focuses on using biotechnology as a tool to improve quality of life and aims to position India as a worldwide hub for biotechnology research.
A government-supported infrastructure is expected to stimulate research in areas such as genomics, stem cells, molecular medicine, metabolic engineering and cell biology.
Growth in sectors like biopharmaceuticals, contract research bioservices, agriculture, genetic engineering and molecular medicine will drive growth for analytical instrumentation.
Microarrays have proved essential for gene expression studies, scanning differences in gene expression or gene activity between healthy and diseased cells. Microarrays also have use in toxicogenomic studies, identifying the changes in gene activity that occurs in response to exposure to a toxin or drug.
They have also proved useful in comparative genomic hybridisation, studying the chromosomal changes that frequently occur in cancer cells, including the loss or duplication of regions of chromosomal DNA.
According to Goldman Sachs, India is currently experiencing a wave of growth in the pharmaceutical industry. Drug sales in India were $4.7 billion in 2004 and have grown at a 20 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2000. India is the forth-largest drug market by volume, but only 13th largest by value.
The top 10 Indian companies, which include Ranbaxy, Cipla, Dr Reddy's and Nicholas Piramal, spent around $400m on R&D in 2003/4, suggesting that they are starting to compete with the established researched-based pharma companies, by taking advantage of India's lower cost-base and pool of research talent.