Medical companies merged to form Asia's first firm focusing on healthcare solutions for Asian women

This focus on Asian women is important because some global standard tests, like mammography, for women's health have generated less precise results due to genetic differences among individuals.
This focus on Asian women is important because some global standard tests, like mammography, for women's health have generated less precise results due to genetic differences among individuals.PHOTO: ST FILE

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

Singapore molecular diagnostics groups Inex Innovations Exchange and Nova Satra are joining forces to create Inex Innovate.

The combined company will aim to provide faster and more accurate diagnostics testing and precision healthcare for Asian women.

This focus on Asian women is important because some global standard tests for women's health have generated less precise results due to genetic differences among various phenotypes, the company said on Tuesday (August 20).

A phenotype refers to the characteristics of an individual produced by the interaction of genetics and the environment.

Mammography, for example, is believed to be less effective at identifying breast cancer in Asian women due to differences in breast tissue.

The deal, which will create an entity valued at US$72 million (S$100 million), is backed by institutional investors, including multinational Genting, government agency Enterprise Singapore and investment company 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 developed and commercialised in many markets across the Asia-Pacific with increasing sales, while there are plans to expand into new areas such as Indonesia and Bangladesh.

The company is also developing a point-of-care kit called OvaCis that can distinguish benign from malignant ovarian cysts in five minutes. It is also looking into a blood-based test for the early detection of ovarian cancer and a 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 company plans to commercialise these technologies across Asia by 2020.

Inex Innovate added that integrating laboratories, research and distribution functions from the two companies will yield cost efficiencies, expand research and development activity and fast-track commercialisation of its assets under development.

Inex Innovate chief executive Kane Black said: "We will continue to work to empower Asian women in the management of their own health through improved access to rapid, accurate diagnosis and technologies. This merger is a strategic step to expedite that ambition.

"Asian countries now account for 40 per cent of breast cancer cases worldwide and 37 per cent of cancers diagnosed in females are in Asia. Inex Innovate is now well-equipped to bring our proprietary tests to more patients and physicians in Asia and beyond."

Dr Sidney Yee, co-founder and a director of the Inex Innovations Exchange, added: "(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."