Five Indian Startups Taking On Cancer To help the healthcare industry and simultaneously bring life-changing innovation, several Indian startups are working to return the hope that was once lost among cancer patients

By Debarghya Sil

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The World Health Organization (WHO) in a report said India witnessed close to 1.16 million new cancer cases and 784,800 cancer deaths in 2018. In India, where the healthcare infrastructure is yet to catch up with its western counterpart and is collapsing at a much faster rate

if a person is diagnosed with cancer, their hope to survive is crushed instantaneously. To help the healthcare industry and simultaneously bring life-changing innovation to the table, several Indian startups are working with all their strength to return the hope that was once lost among cancer patients

In this piece, we will look at five Indian startups that are working to strengthen India's fight against fatal cancer.

Tzar Labs

Tzar Labs, a molecular diagnostic company, along with Mumbai-based Epigeneres Biotechnology, has made an early detection and prognosis/diagnosis of cancer. Recently, Ashish Tripathi led Tzar Labs claims to have found a blood test, which can determine whether cancer is present, imminent, or absent in a patient. The test further allows doctors to know in which stage the cancer is and help them to treat it.

The unique blood test known as HrC, even claims to detect cancer before any symptoms or tumors develop. The core team led by Indian scientists found out that the peripheral blood of patients with cancer has a large number of VSELs (Very Small Embryonic-Like Stem Cells) compared to those without the disease. The team further discovered that the expression of a transcription factor within the cell, known as Oct4a, varying according to the respective stages of cancer.

Tzar Labs has developed a proprietary technology that claims to detect organ-level RNA mutations directly from the blood and has filed patents in the US, Europe, Japan, China, and Singapore amongst others.


Bengaluru-based NIRAMAI is a deep-tech startup that offers a radiation-free, non-invasive, non-touch, breast cancer screening solution for hospitals and diagnostic centres. Founded by Geetha Manjunath in 2016, NIRAMAI claims that its solution is accurate and affordable and can be used on women of all age.

NIRAMAI solution has received 10 granted US patents, 3 Indian patents, 2 Chinese and Singapore patents. The startup has so far raised $7 million from piVentures, Dream Incubator, Axilor Ventures, Ankur Capital, BeeNext and others.


Taking inspiration from her experience Rashie Jain in 2017 founded, a healthcare technology company focused on providing end-to-end care management to cancer patients. The platform address multiple gaps by building an online oncology ecosystem that the patient or their family can tap into to get the right advice personalized to their condition followed by the right care thereby making this whole process of availing treatment more patient centric.

The startup claims to empower cancer patients and their families with relevant information which includes treatment costs, outcomes and experts, among others. The company currently serves over 12,000 cancer patients every month and has served over 150,000 patients from India and other emerging markets.

OncoStem Diagnostics

Founded in 2011, OncoStem develop tests that help to identify patterns of cancer recurrence risk. The startup claims that an understanding of these patterns will make sure that patients will receive personalized therapies and treatments that are best suited to their condition.

Started by Dr. Manjiri Bakre, OncoStem aims to develop innovative tests to personalize treatment for cancer patients. The startup's flagship product CanAssist Breast has been launched for hormone-positive breast cancer. At present, the firm is working on similar tests for other cancer types including triple-negative breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The startup has till date raised $6 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital in 2017 along with other existing investors.


Sascan is Kerala based startup that is developing affordable optical imaging technologies that detect pre-cancerous changes in squamous epithelial tissues of the oral cavity and cervix. Incubated at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, and with support from BIRAC (BIG Scheme), Karnataka Startup Mission, Kerala Startup Mission, among others the startup has developed a hand-held bimodal imaging device, OralScan that will treat and diagnose cancers of the oral cavity in a different way. OralScan's multi-spectral imaging camera can detect oral precancers without the need for tissue biopsy. This intra-oral screening camera can be inserted into the mouth of a patient to locate early lesions in real-time, using an algorithm. This portable device can store images in its internal memory or on the cloud and make cancer screening as easy and painless as taking a picture.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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