[MIK HOT SPOT_KHIDI] NGeneBio wants to develop precision diagnostic products to help treat many patients
[ Jane Lee 2020-06-18 ]  
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AVING News interviewed Choi Dae-chul, the CEO of INTHESMART, which participated in the MIK HOT SPOT (Made in Korea Online Exhibition) KHIDI.

What kind of company is NGeneBio?

Hi, this is Choi Dae-chul, the CEO of NGeneBio. NGeneBio was founded on October 30, 2015 by the people in KT in-house ventures. We have developed the genome analysis technology since 2010, and we have commercialized the genome analysis platform for the first time in Korea. I thought that the technology will be useful for personalized treatment of cancer patients, so I left KT in 2015 and founded NGeneBio.

Company vision and goals?

NGeneBio's vision is to develop the precision diagnosis product that can predict and prevent diseases and provide customized treatment to people from all over the world so that many patients can receive treatment easily and conveniently. For this, we have developed and commercialized the precise diagnosis products. The cause for cancer is different for every cancer patients. If you can pinpoint the cause, you would be able to provide personalized treatment. To provide personalized treatment, we are developing precision diagnostic products. By doing so, patients can receive treatment with high therapeutic effect and low side effects. Doctors can treat patients with high treatment rates. In addition, the government can reduce the cost of medical treatment as the prescriptions for expensive but unnecessary and high-priced drugs decreased. We are working hard on technology development to realize this value.

Please introduce your main products and systems.

We have commercialized the precision diagnostic reagents for patient-specific treatments and the analysis platform for precise diagnosis only in Korea, and selling them. The main product is BRCA accuTest related to breast cancer. This NGS technology-based in vitro medical device product received the first approval as an Asian country from Europe. In addition, for the first time in Korea, it obtained approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in December 2017 and it is being sold in SNUH and St. Mary's Hospital Gangnam with insurance applied.

The second product is the blood cancer precision diagnosis product. This product is also sold to many university hospitals with insurance applied. In particular, this product is currently undergoing multi-center clinical trials for the first time in Korea. We plan to obtain a food and drug license within this year.

The third product is a product that performs precise diagnosis by examining cancer tissues related to stomach cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. This product was also approved for in vitro diagnostic medical device in Europe this year, and it is sold to many university hospitals with insurance applied. This is in addition to the precise diagnostic reagents we mentioned earlier. When a precise diagnostic reagent is tested on a patient, many genomic data is produced. Accurate analysis of these data is necessary to accurately diagnose patients without false diagnosis. At that time, all necessary analysis technologies were automated, and NGeneAnalySys software was released. So, by combining precision diagnostic reagents and analytical software, we are making technological differentiation from other companies, and we can show our unique technology outside.

In addition, we are also servicing the personal genetic testing services for non-patients as well. This service is currently in partnership with a large company called Ceragem to supply our product. Also, we have developed the diagnostic reagents used for paternity tests or criminal DNA testing and exporting them.

Please introduce your staff.

I am from KT's in-house venture and am currently the CEO of the Korea Institute of Genetic Testing Evaluation, and I am also a member of the Steering Committee of the Genome Business Council. There are four people in my company including me from KT's in-house venture. One of them is Director Kim Gwang-joong, who worked at KCDC and KT's in-house venture. And, there is CFO Yoon Se-hyuk, who worked at the KT Group Strategy Office and worked at the in-house venture with me. And, there is the software division manager Hong Chang-beom who is also from KCED and KT's in-house venture. In addition, we have Moon Young-jun, head of the overseas business division, who worked at the global branch of Roche Diagnostics. We also have Oh Eun-seol, Director of Bioinformatics, who was a senior researcher at Samsung Medical Center working as a major management member.

The total number of employees in our company is currently 72. Out of 72, eight are doctors and 36 are masters. A total of over 60% majored in specialized fields, supporting the technology of our company. What makes our company different from other bio companies is that we have a separate IT manpower and a genome data analysis manpower. We have 12 people in IT, 8 people in genome analysis, and experts in biotechnology, and we think that our company is following what's required in Industry 4.0 in terms of technological convergence.

What are your plans for the future?

We have local distributors in Europe, Asia, and South America. Currently, we have signed contract with 13 distributors to sell our products through distributors. Little by little, the export performance is increasing. We are also conducting market research to enter the largest market in the United States. Next year, we will be entering the US directly. Also, we are planning to launch two new products this year.

The first product checks whether the bone marrow of the donor matches that of the recipient when performing bone marrow transplant. Existing products inspects one at a time, but this product inspects 11 at a time. This product greatly improves the inconvenience and inaccuracy of the existing product. The second product helps treat the patients by testing genes related to solid cancer at the same time. This product was successfully developed through technical license from Asan Medical Center. We are launching this in Q3 this year, and sales are expected to increase.

We have two core technologies. The first technology is to develop reagents that require precise diagnosis. Second, it is the data analysis technology that accurately detects mutations in genomic big data from the reagent. By combining these two technologies, we have completed a precision diagnosis platform, and by commercializing many precision diagnosis products based on this platform, we would like to present happiness and health to as many patients as possible.

What are the helpful KHIDI programs?

We are currently working on six national research projects. Also, by performing various support projects, it has helped us a lot. Particularly in July last year, we have worked on KHIDI's Startup Leap Package Project and growth stimulation program, which have helps us greatly in getting ready for being listed. Also, in December last year, it was selected as a preliminary unicorn company by the Korea Technology Finance Corporation. We were able to finance a large amount of money, and it helped our company greatly.

Any last words you would like to say?

Our biggest goal this year is the special technology listing in KOSDAQ. Developing and commercializing our technology by being listed, and exporting them overseas is our goal. Especially, we are going to invest in the development of companion diagnostic technologies related to immunotherapy or targeted therapies, the prognostic/forecast field of disease through liquid biopsy technology, and infections like COVID-19 and tuberculosis-related infections. Through this, we are going to generate big profit in the next 5 years, and build the foundation for growing as a unicorn company.

The global news network AVING News has begun holding the MIK Hot Spot (Made in Korea Online Exhibition) to help small and medium-sized companies enter the market and attract investment 365 days a year. AVING News has been running online exhibitions since 2005 and had 975 online exhibitions so far. Its YouTube online exhibition has placed itself as Korea's largest online exhibition hall that opens with 19,000 videos (booths) with more than 800,000 visits per month which means more than 10 million visits per year.

The MIK HOT SPOT online exhibition is scheduled to be held regularly according to the field, target market, and participating institutions, and it will be presented as a new type of online business by transforming the know-hows and values of the participating companies according to the trend. Companies that want to participate can apply and apply through the marketing support projects from supporting institutions in the local governments. Refer to the institutions for more information.

→ Go to MIK Hot Spot (Made in Korea Online Exhibition) special page

→ Go to MIK Hot Spot (Made in Korea Online Exhibition) information page

Global News Network 'AVING'
by Jane Lee (www.aving.net)

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