Firms merge to offer healthcare solutions aimed at Asian women

Two companies have merged to create Asia's first technology-based firm to offer healthcare solutions tailored to Asian women.

Singapore molecular diagnostics groups Inex Innovations Exchange and Nova Satra are behind Inex Innovate, which aims to provide faster and more accurate diagnostic tests and precision healthcare.

This focus on Asian women is important because some global standard tests for women's health have generated less precise results because of genetic differences among various phenotypes, the combined company said yesterday.

A phenotype is the set of observable characteristics of an individual produced by the interaction of genetics and the environment.

Mammography, for example, can be less effective at identifying breast cancer in Asian women because of differences in breast tissue.

The merger, which creates an entity valued at US$72 million (S$99.8 million), is backed by institutional investors including multinational corporation Genting, government agency Enterprise Singapore and investment firm SNS Holdings.

The merger means the new company will have a strong portfolio of intellectual property comprising more than 45 key patents and nine trademarks worldwide.

Its reproductive health solutions have been commercialised in many markets across the Asia-Pacific, while there are plans to expand into new areas such as Indonesia and Bangladesh.

The combined company is also developing a detection kit called OvaCis that can distinguish benign ovarian cysts from malignant ones in five minutes.

It is also looking into a blood-based test for the early detection of ovarian cancer, as well as technology that is one of the first epigenetics-based early detection tests for breast cancer in Asian women.

Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression.

The combined company plans to commercialise these technologies across Asia by next year.

Dr Sidney Yee, co-founder and a director of Inex Innovations Exchange, said: "(The company) has a deep understanding of Asian demographics and a unique offering of both diagnostic products and care delivery services. I look forward to seeing (it) continue to develop and translate research into clinical practice to help women navigate the various stages of their lives."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'Firms merge to offer healthcare solutions aimed at Asian women'. Print Edition | Subscribe