Bioneer Co., a South Korean biotech firm, on Wednesday, said that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to source COVID-19 test kit readers valued at 6.8 billion won ($5.5 million) to Indonesia-based Genomik Solidaritas.
Established in 1992, Bioneer is the first South Korean biotechnology venture founded by CEO Park Han-oh. The company specializes in molecular biology products and technologies with the aim of localizing biotechnology research technology. It operates a head office in Daejeon with a factory located in Cheongju.
Under the MOU, Bioneer would produce 25 sets of ExiStation 48. The delivery would include RT-PCR COVID-19 test kits and nucleic acid diagnostic agents.
The company would first deliver nine ExiStation 48s and kits valued at 1.5 billion won ($1.22 million), with the remaining batch following demand in Indonesia.
The biotech firm hopes to help significantly Indonesian medical professionals with its ExiStation test kit readers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Expanding Global Presence
The company increased its presence globally for its exclusive RT-PCR molecular diagnostic equipment for COVID-19. Park said that the demand for such equipment has doubled or tripled as compared last year.
He said that the company successfully marketed about 1,000 units worldwide and about 150 units in Korea. Bioneer also actively introduced its diagnostic equipment and reagents to domestic diagnosis companies, hospitals, and life science businesses.
According to Park, Bioneer is the only Asian company to acquire European certification (CE-IVD) for the molecular diagnosis of COVID-19. He added that Bioneer is also the only domestic company to localize expensive diagnostic equipment successfully.
However, multinational pharmaceutical companies such as Abbott and Roche monopolize the domestic market for assays, which could reach 185 million won ($150,000) to 431 million won ($350,000) per unit.
Park said that a COVID-19 therapeutics is also under development. Based on Bioneer’s DNA synthesis technology, the company produced 980 types of candidate molecules that could combat and neutralize COVID-19 faster.
Bioneer recently tested animal models with therapy for inhibiting pulmonary fibrosis in COVID-19 patients. The company said it would soon evaluate human clinical trials within the year.
The Bioneer CEO said that the therapeutics would become a first-in-class drug target DNA sequences.