Beijing Backs Private Genome Analysis Firm Geneseeq
Mainland Chinese companies are set to reign globally in a relatively new field of genome analysis.
A Jiangsu-based Next Genome Sequencing (NGS) firm, Geneseeq has raised over CNY 800 million (the equivalent of around USD 110 million) in its Series C financing round. The injection was led by the state-backed China Reform Holding Corporation (中国国新) and healthcare-investment focused private equity firm, Lily Asia Ventures (礼来亚).
The firm is applying NGS to understand patients' genetic maps, in a move to transform cancer treatment into an affordable and smarter process. The firm claims it has sequenced over 150,000 patients’ genes as of 2019. To accelerate the launch of cancer NGS testing in China, the firm co-developed an oncogene detection kit for clinical diagnosis with Illumina (ILMN: NASDAQ) in June 2018 — the world's largest genome sequencing provider by market capitalization.
Biotech companies from mainland China have seen a significant capital influx in the last years, despite the cooldown in the primary markets due to global macroeconomic uncertainties. Genome sequencing is a cutting-edge application where biotechnology meets big data. It is used to diagnose genetic-oriented diseases early, as well as provide a precise and tailored treatment plan for patients — also known as precision medicine.
Geneseeq has also been researching genetic biomarkers to predict patients' responses to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, a type of immunotherapy that has been invested in heavily by Chinese companies to provide an alternative solution to the county's chronic cancer problem. BeiGene (BNGE: NASDAQ), and I-Mab Biopharma are the companies from mainland China that have attracted attention in immunotherapy in 2019.
In precision medicine, genomics, and whole-genome sequencing, one company set the standards in the Mainland, BGI (BGI: NYSE). The genome giant has been providing a wide range of affordable diagnostic solutions and has established China’s first national gene bank.