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By Nicholas Smith
As sequencing grows significantly in China, how are Chinese home-grown companies making the most of it?
In December 2017, the UK and China announced a joint initiative to advance collaboration in science and innovation¹. The first bilateral science and innovation strategy of its kind to be developed by China jointly with another country, the UK-China Joint Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation builds on existing collaborations dating back to 2014, and represents yet another step change in China’s efforts to grow their leadership in healthcare markets. On the back of initiatives such as this, China’s home-grown companies are forging new partnerships internationally, and are well positioned to flourish as a result.
DaAn Gene uses the Cavro ADP to meet their liquid handling needs for high pipetting precision in infection diagnostics.
This is a sign of the significant strides China has made in healthcare over the last few decades. One of the areas in which they are becoming world leaders is In Vitro Diagnosis (IVD). The prowess of China in this area is steadily growing. An example of this home-grown expertise and innovation is the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), a non-government research lab that sequenced the rice genome in 2002, which became a cover story for Science magazine.
More recently, BGI acquired an American company in Silicon Valley, called Complete Genomics, which helps them provide service in the US. A strong indicator if ever there was one of the growth of Chinese business in advanced life science applications.
Genome sequencing expertise that drives opportunity
One of the many companies treading the same path of BGI is DaAn Gene, which is now producing high quality instrumentation for diagnostic purposes². This includes diagnosing infectious diseases by genomic means, a much faster and more accurate method than old fashioned culturing. The result is faster diagnosis of patients, especially for life threatening diseases like MRSA, HBV, TB and fungal infections.
As part of their mission to keep their instrumentation at the cutting edge, DaAn Gene chose to partner with Tecan for air displacement technology. This technique ensures zero contact between the sample and the instrument for absolute contamination-free operation, while maintaining high pipetting precision.
Over the past several years, Chinese laboratories have increasingly focussed on DNA extraction and PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) based assays for infectious disease testing in blood banks, in addition to the more traditional immunoassay (ELISA) techniques. As a result, many are now choosing DaAn Gene instruments with Tecan components.
A fast-moving market in molecular diagnostics
China’s molecular diagnostics market is expanding fast. This is largely due to the large expanding volume of molecular testing for infectious diseases carried out in China using domestically produced kits, like those from DaAn Gene. These tests account for around three-quarters of China’s molecular market.
Tim Orpin, general manager of the Asia Pacific Region for Illumina, speaks about the explosive growth opportunities for genomics: “Things move very quickly in China. Decisions on a national scale can be made relatively fast, especially where technology has the ability to add significant value to society. As a result, the genomics landscape in China is incredibly hot. Today, there’s a much stronger focus on using next generation sequencing (NGS) technology in a manner that adds direct value to the population. Where there is a strong value proposition for society, we’ve seen the technology adopted extremely quickly when compared to uptake in other parts of the world. The widespread use of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is an excellent example of this.”³
According to a May 2018 press release from Research And Markets⁴, the IVD market in China was estimated at over $3 billion in 2017, and is predicted to reach nearly $6 billion by 2022, at an annual growth rate of 13.2%. This can only indicate that China’s molecular testing industry is still in its infant stages and is destined to become a true giant.
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- UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Jo Johnson MP: Joint UK-China strategy for science, technology and innovation cooperation sets new horizons for closer international collaborations. (Last accessed June 2018).
- DaAn Gene Co., Ltd. Of Sun Yat-sen University. (Last accessed June 2018).
- Illumina Scales for Growth in China. Tim Orpin on the company’s strategy to address the world’s largest NGS market (Last accessed June 2018).
- Cision PR Newswire: In 2017 the IVD Market in China was Estimated at $3.2 Billion, and is Expected to Reach $5.95 Billion by 2022 (Last accessed June 2018).