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Collaboration – Sustainable Solution for Big (Pharma & Tech)



According to an EY report, between 2013 and 2017, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) filed 186 health-related patents, Microsoft – 73 and Apple – 54, which is a 38 per cent increase in the number of such patents by these three companies every two years. The report further noted that such a competition poses a new challenge to pharma, and argued that health companies should capitalise on the data they gather to create digital solutions helping patients with their health. Many of the challenges that healthcare industry can be solved with the availability of state-of-the-art digital health solutions. Moving forward it will become imperative for pharma and tech firms to collaborate and this joint collaboration will create a new market that has more than enough potential for both sides.

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Published by MMA Media, 2019-12-11 01:15:29

BioSpectrum Asia December 2019

Collaboration – Sustainable Solution for Big (Pharma & Tech)



According to an EY report, between 2013 and 2017, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) filed 186 health-related patents, Microsoft – 73 and Apple – 54, which is a 38 per cent increase in the number of such patents by these three companies every two years. The report further noted that such a competition poses a new challenge to pharma, and argued that health companies should capitalise on the data they gather to create digital solutions helping patients with their health. Many of the challenges that healthcare industry can be solved with the availability of state-of-the-art digital health solutions. Moving forward it will become imperative for pharma and tech firms to collaborate and this joint collaboration will create a new market that has more than enough potential for both sides.

Keywords: pharma

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4 BIO EDIT

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Milind Kokje EMPOWERING WELLNESS
WITH TECHNOLOGY
Chief Editor
Builders of successful commercial organisations know that human resource is
[email protected] the brain of the organisation. It needs to be nurtured and developed since good
business means investing in the right people. For that, one needs to attract good
talent. And to do that, according to Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)- Strategy & Operations,
Rise People, Julie Bevacqua, “you need to understand what matters most to your people.”

The US based Science magazine has been doing it in an annual Top Employers’ Survey
for the last 16 years. This survey directs the industry since it is done to determine which
companies in the pharma and biotech sectors have the best reputations as employers
globally. One interesting aspect that has come out of this year’s survey is that Alnylam
Pharmaceuticals, an RNA-interference therapeutics company employing 1200 people
which had never appeared in the survey earlier has earned the top slot in the rankings in
its debut appearance.

Another interesting feature of this year’s survey is the importance employees attach
to industry changes around drug pricing, regulations & policies and growing emphasis
on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The most noteworthy current and
expected changes in the industry focused on cost-cutting, pressures around drug pricing,
drug regulation policies and changes in US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said
the survey.

Point of pressures around drug pricing coming out in the survey is a significant
development. Besides the research and innovation cost, the issue of social responsibility
is also involved in pricing. The employees attaching value to this sensitive topic shows
that drug pricing is a topic no more restricted to the top management. The drug industry
employees treat this as a notable industry change as the companies are exploring and
using innovative methods for pricing. One of the methods being used by one company
is to pay only if the drug works. Some are negotiating with the insurance companies for
value-based prices.

Thus, the drug industry employees feel that drug pricing pressures are likely to affect
their work and hence they attach importance to it while selecting the employers. The
industry needs to take note of such new factors that are determining the employees’
perception about the employer. Cost-cutting is also an integral part of it.

AI and machine learning have brought in a whole new work culture in the industry. AI
has been redefining how scientists develop new drugs. Narrative science survey noted that
61 per cent companies investing in innovative strategies are using AI. Various companies
are using AI for different purposes and in different ways. It is being used more is clinical
trials. According to the latest information available, over 30 companies are using AI for
drug discovery. The ultimate aim is to increase new drugs’ success rate at reduced cost.

Regarding machine learning, McKinsey estimates that big data and machine learning
in pharma can generate up to $100 billion each year. So, both are no more futuristic
technologies, they are already present and spreading and developing at a very fast pace.
Thus, it is but natural that any employee in the industry will like to look at the prospective
employing company evaluating its involvement in these new technologies.

In general, innovation is still the very first driving characteristic that employers look
for. This has been the case since 2002 - the top slot in the characteristics is occupied by
“innovative leader in the industry”. There has been no change in the first five driving
characteristics of top employers from the point of view of employees since last last year.
They include company’s social responsibility attitude, respectful treatment to employees,
alignment in personal values and company’s vales and leadership’s attitude towards
change to be in the right direction.

The industry needs to know these trends and adopt suitably since businesses can be
built by building the people.

BIO MAIL 5

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Acknowledgements

We would like to extend a huge thank you on behalf of Milestone Systems for
featuring the article by Benjamin Low, VP, APAC, Milestone Systems, titled
‘Japan, China are leading the APAC healthcare AI market in the November
edition. Looking forward to working with you again in the near future.

- Joel Seet, Singapore

Thank you very much for the interview feature on Dr Ben Ng, Mount Elizabeth
Novena Specialist Centre, Singapore. Very pleased with the piece.

- Nicole Ang, Singapore

The interview coverage of Michael Grant, CEO, Q-Sera, Australia looks great in
the November issue. Thank you BioSpectrum Asia.

- Caleb Hulme-Moir, New Zealand

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6 BIO CONTENT

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

COVERStory 17

COLLABORATION–
SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION FOR
BIG (PHARMA & TECH)

According to an EY report, between 2013 and 2017, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) filed 186 health-related
patents, Microsoft – 73 and Apple – 54, which is a 38 per cent increase in the number of such patents by these three
companies every two years. The report further noted that such a competition poses a new challenge to pharma, and
argued that health companies should capitalise on the data they gather to create digital solutions helping patients
with their health. Many of the challenges that healthcare industry can be solved with the availability of state-of-the-art
digital health solutions. Moving forward it will become imperative for pharma and tech firms to collaborate and this
joint collaboration will create a new market that has more than enough potential for both sides.

22 ANALYSIS 24 AUSTRALIA REPORT

Why is More
China biotech
getting companies
moving
the into ASX
upper
hand? 200

26 SPEAKING WITH 29 EVENT REPORT

“Asia Pacific region SFF X SWITCH 2019
is beginning to endorse
Medtech
stem cell treatments” startup

Vipul Jain, Eko.ai clinches
CEO, Advancells, India top prize

BIO CONTENT 7

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

32 ASIA PACIFIC MEDTECH 2019 CONNECT
ENGAGE
ASIA PACIFIC MEDTECH FORUM 2019 SHARE

Finding sparking Medtech Innovators across APAC

34

“We started with making an impact
with ANT surgical robotics to optimise
procedures in medical industry”

Alan Goh,
Co-founder & CEO, NDR Medical Technology, Singapore

35

“VACOX stimulates natural
physiological process to reduce
healing time & cost associated”

Shivani Gupta,
Co-founder, Director, inochi care, India

36 Connect with us
twitter.com/
“We are planning FDA
submission for our BioSpectrumMag
clinical tool in early 2020”
facebook.com/
James Hare, BioSpectrumMagazine
CEO and Co-founder, eko.ai, Singapore
https://goo.gl/QY4nUp
37 EVENT REPORT /BS-LinkedIn

Decoding healthcare in China www.biospectrumasia.com

40 REGULARS

GLOBAL BIO-INDIA SUMMIT, 2019 BioEdit.........................................04
BioMail........................................05
India has potential to emerge world leader Regulatory News......................08
in Biotechnology: Dr Harsh Vardhan Company News........................10
Finance News............................12
42 Start-Up News...........................13
WHO News.................................15
IDF CONGRESS 2019 World News...............................16
R&D News..................................43
Roche- Connecting dots for diabetes relief Academics News......................45
Supplier News...........................46
50 People News..............................48

SNOMED CT 2019

“Malaysia creates comprehensive MyHDW
to aid doctors in making clinical decisions”

8 REGULATORY NEWS

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Japan grants India inks MoC with
Gates Foundation
ODD to Merck’s
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare,
investigational India has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the
Gates Foundation. Under the MoC, Gates Foundation will provide
therapy technical, management and program design support through its
grantees and other partners, with a special focus on innovation,
Tepotinib best practices and enhancing performance management, while
working closely with the government. The Foundation will
Japanese Ministry of Health, support the Ministry’s work towards strengthening the primary
Labour and Welfare (MHLW) has health aspects such as reducing maternal and child mortality,
granted orphan drug designation improving nutrition services and increasing the immunization
(ODD) for Merck’s investigational reach. Efforts will be made to increase access to family planning
therapy tepotinib for patients measures amongst younger women and reduce the burden of
with non-small cell lung cancer select infectious diseases (Tuberculosis, Visceral Leishmaniasis,
(NSCLC) harboring MET gene Lymphatic Filariasis). The work will also include strengthening of
alterations. Discovered in- supply chains and monitoring systems while focusing on budget
house at Merck, tepotinib is an utilization, management and skills of human resources for health,
investigational oral MET inhibitor ultimately bolstering the entire health system.
that is designed to inhibit the
oncogenic MET receptor signaling China steps up
caused by MET (gene) alterations, for TB prevention
including both MET exon 14
skipping alterations and MET China’s National Health Commission (NHC) and the Bill
amplifications, or MET protein & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a memorandum
overexpression. It has been of understanding (MoU) on the prevention and control of
designed to have a highly selective tuberculosis. It is aimed to promote new tools, technologies
mechanism of action, with the and strategies to counter the epidemic. According to the
potential to improve outcomes memorandum, an innovative tuberculosis control program will
in aggressive tumors that have a be implemented in selected provincial-level regions utilizing new
poor prognosis and harbor these technologies for diagnosis and patient management, with new
specific alterations. Tepotinib is models for designated hospitals and new financing approaches
being investigated in the ongoing to minimize healthcare expenses. The NHC and the foundation
VISION study (NCT02864992), will also work together to refine existing policies and approaches
which showed preliminary efficacy concerning the disease while developing new ones in support of
in patients harboring METex14 the country’s national action plan to stop tuberculosis.
skipping alterations detected
by liquid biopsy (LBx) or tissue
biopsy (TBx) across different lines
of treatment.

REGULATORY NEWS 9

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Malaysia to Singapore makes
progress in war
renew biological against diabetes

control of dengue The Ministry of Health (MoH) in Singapore has
released a summary report highlighting the key
The Health Ministry (MOH) in Malaysia is initiatives and progress made on the War of Diabetes
looking at expanding the use of Wolbachia- (WoD) over the past three years in addressing the
infected mosquitoes to biologically control rising trend of diabetes among Singaporeans. The
the spread of dengue in persistent hotspots report was launched by Edwin Tong, Senior Minister
in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Health, at
This follows the success of the programme the World Diabetes Day event organised by Diabetes
which was introduced at six different sites Singapore. The War on Diabetes has seen progress in
earlier this year, AU2 Keramat, PKNS garnering a whole-of-nation effort ranging from, but
AU2 Keramat, Shah Alam Section 7, Flat not limited to healthcare professionals, industries,
PKNS, Jalan Plumbum 101/103 Shah community partners and citizens. The WoD summary
Alam, Mentari Court and Pusat Komersial report highlights the key initiatives and progress
Section 7. By using a strain of the bacteria made under the three pillars of the War on Diabetes
Wolbachia, which inhibits mosquitoes from strategic framework: (i) Prevention through healthy
transmitting viruses to human, researchers living; (ii) Early detection and intervention; and (iii)
at the medical entomology unit, Institute for Better disease management. These key thrusts are
Medical Research (IMR), MOH, together underpinned by cross-cutting enablers such as public
with the Universities of Glasgow (United education and stakeholder engagement, as well as
Kingdom) and Melbourne (Australia) had data and analysis, technology and research.
successfully reduced the incidence of dengue
at hotspots in the state.

Korea reinforces national responsibility on dementia

The Ministry of Health and on Dementia Shelter will be use the shelter. Also, service hour
Welfare, Korea has discussed abolished and recipients of will be extended from 3 hours to
measures to reinforce national cognitive support will be able to up to 7 hours. To support local
responsibility on dementia and governments to expand facilities
review the progress of research for dementia patients, financial
and development project on subsidies for construction will be
dementia. Currently, dementia raised and installation standards
patients are allowed to use for national nursing facilities will
Dementia Shelter’s cognitive be eased starting from January,
rehabilitation programme for 3 2020. 198.7 billion won will be
hours a day and up to 6 months invested in R&D projects for
before getting a cognitive nine years starting from 2020.
support grade for a long-term In 2020, 5.9 billion won will be
care program. Starting from invested in 23 research projects
the next year, the restriction (for six months).

10 COMPANY NEWS

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Sanofi introduces Hitachi with CLB to
SOLIQUA fight cancer using AI
in Singapore
Tokyo headquartered Hitachi and Centre Leon Berard (CLB), a
Sanofi has announced the launch of leading French Comprehensive Cancer Center in Lyon-France,
SOLIQUA, its once-daily injectable have announced that they have entered into an agreement to
treatment which aims to relieve the jointly promote research and development aimed at improving
burden of uncontrolled type 2 diabetes the efficiency of diagnosis and treatment of cancer and
(T2D) in Singapore in a simple, established a new research laboratory called Hitachi Lyon Lab
single step. SOLIQUA is the first- on the CLB site, starting November 5. In this collaboration,
of-its-kind treatment in Singapore Hitachi and CLB will conduct research and development of novel
that is indicated in combination technologies to detect and diagnose cancers exploiting medical
with metformin for the treatment of images such as CT/MRI using artificial intelligence (AI) and to
adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus to predict response to radiation therapy using tumor genomic and
improve glycaemic control when this transcriptomic data. Hitachi and CLB will conduct joint research
has not been provided by metformin at Hitachi Lyon Lab to improve the efficiency of diagnosis and
alone, metformin combined with treatment of cancer, by combining CLB’s clinical expertise and
another oral glucose-lowering patient data related to cancer treatment with Hitachi’s know-how
medicinal product or with basal in diagnostic imaging and IT/AI. Specifically, they will jointly
insulin. Its fixed-ratio combination develop diagnostic imaging technologies to detect potential
of basal insulin glargine (100 units/ cancer sites and assist radiologists’ diagnosis from image data
ml) and GLP-1 RA lixisenatide as such as CT and MRI using AI.
a complementary mode of action,
working to keep blood sugar within
target levels.

Samsung Bioepis teams up with Biogen

South Korea based Samsung Bioepis development. In addition, the
announced that it has entered agreement provides Biogen an option
into a new commercialization to extend the commercialization
agreement with US based Biogen term for Samsung Bioepis’ three
for two biosimilar candidates anti-TNF biosimilars – BENEPALI
under development by Samsung (etanercept), FLIXABI (infliximab),
Bioepis, SB11(ranibizumab) and and IMRALDI (adalimumab) – in
SB15 (aflibercept), in the United Europe for additional five years,
States (US), Canada, Europe, Japan, extending the original ten-year
and Australia. SB11, a biosimilar agreement. BENEPALI is the most
candidate referencing LUCENTIS prescribed etanercept in France,
(ranibizumab), is undergoing Germany, Italy, Spain, and the
phase 3 clinical trial, while SB15, United Kingdom (UK). IMRALDI is
a biosimilar candidate referencing the leading adalimumab biosimilar
EYLEA (aflibercept), is in pre-clinical in Europe.

COMPANY NEWS 11

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

AstraZeneca announces
large-scale initiatives in China

Roche launches AstraZeneca has announced new AI Innovation Centre, also
small cell three large-scale initiatives to in Shanghai, will be established
lung cancer build on the company’s long- to capitalise on the latest
drug in India standing commitment to China digital technology in R&D,
and advance global research manufacturing, operations and
Roche has announced the and development (R&D) for commercialisation in order
launch of Atezolizumab for the innovative new medicines. to accelerate the delivery of
treatment of Extensive-Stage The announcements include medicines to patients in China
Small Cell Lung Cancer (ES- the creation of a new Global and globally.
SCLC) in India. Atezolizumab is R&D Centre and an artificial
the first cancer immunotherapy intelligence (AI) Innovation
to receive an approval in India Centre, both in Shanghai, and
for the first line treatment the creation of a first-of-its-
of ES-SCLC when given in kind Healthcare Industrial
combination with chemotherapy. Fund with China International
Clinical study has shown Capital Corporation Limited
significant improvement in the (CICC). Global R&D Centre
survival outcomes in the patients will carry out R&D for potential
compared to the available new innovative medicines
chemotherapy options. In a and more than double
clinical study Atezolizumab has AstraZeneca’s Shanghai R&D
demonstrated improved survival headcount to around 1,000. A
outcomes, comparable safety
profile and improved the quality FIND collaborates with
of life for the already approved SpeeDx and QuantuMDx
indications, previously been
approved for other two types of Australia based SpeeDx and UK headquartered QuantuMDx
cancers: Non-Small Cell Lung
Cancer (NSCLC) and Urothelial Group have announced a collaboration with the Foundation
Carcinoma, a type of bladder and
urinary tract cancer. The Phase for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND). The global non-profit
III IMpower133 study, showed
that it has significantly improved organization drives development and delivery of diagnostics to
Overall Survival (OS) and
Progression-free survival (PFS) combat major diseases affecting the world’s poorest populations.
for the first time in over 20 years
for patients with Extensive-stage The collaborative
Small cell lung cancer.
project will assess the

feasibility of developing

low-cost point of

care (POC) tests for

common sexually

transmitted infections

(STIs). SpeeDx will

use their proprietary

PlexPCR technology

to develop multiplex

tests for common STIs,

including gonorrhoea and Mycoplasma genitalium (Mgen), to be

run on the QuantuMDx Q-POCTM POC device. The QuantuMDx

Q-POCTM is a battery-operated, microfluidics based, sample-to-

answer system for low-cost molecular testing using rapid PCR

followed by microarray detection.

12 FINANCE NEWS

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Takeda divests select products to STADA for $660M

Japan based Takeda is Takeda’s fourth divestment
transaction in the past six months
Pharmaceutical Company that contributes to the company’s
goal to divest approximately $10
Limited has announced billion in non-core assets to focus
on its five key business areas and
that it has entered into commitment to accelerating
its deleveraging following its
an agreement to divest a acquisition of Shire. Takeda
completed the divestiture of
portfolio of select products to Xiidra to Novartis for up to $5.3
billion in July, announced the
STADA Arzneimittel AG, an sale of TachoSil to Ethicon for $400 million in May,
and last month announced its sale of non-core assets
international pharmaceutical in countries spanning Near East, Middle East and
Africa to Acino for over $200 million.
company, for a total value of

$660 million. The portfolio

includes over-the-counter (OTC)

and prescription pharmaceutical

products exclusively in Russia, Georgia, and a number

of countries from within the Commonwealth of

Independent States, which form part of Takeda’s

Growth & Emerging Markets Business Unit. This

Novartis inks Lupin sells
acquisition deal with Japanese subsidiary
Aspen worth EUR 400M for Rs 3702Cr

Sandoz, a Novartis division, has announced that it Indian pharma major Lupin Limited
has entered into a binding agreement for the planned has announced that it has entered into
acquisition of the Japanese business of Aspen Global a definitive agreement for the sale of its
Incorporated (AGI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Aspen entire stake in its Japanese subsidiary
Pharmacare Holdings Limited. The planned acquisition Kyowa Pharmaceutical Industry Co.,
consists of shares in Aspen Japan K.K. and associated Ltd. to Unison Capital Partners IV, LPS
assets held by AGI. Pursuant to the agreed terms of the and Unison Capital Partners IV (F). L.P.,
transaction, on closing Sandoz will pay an initial cash a leading private equity fund in Japan
consideration of EUR 300 million. Sandoz has also agreed, with a strong track record of success in
upon certain conditions being fulfilled after closing, to the healthcare sector. The transaction
pay certain deferred consideration to AGI. It is currently will be subject to customary closing
anticipated that the amount of deferred consideration to conditions including approval by Lupin’s
be paid will not exceed EUR 100 million. Aspen’s portfolio shareholders. Under the terms of the
in Japan consists of off-patent medicines with a focus agreement, Lupin’s subsidiary Nanomi
on anesthetics and specialty brands. Additionally, AGI B.V. will divest its entire stake (99.82 per
has entered into a five year manufacturing and supply cent) in Kyowa to Unison’s entity Plutus
agreement (with an additional two year extension option) Ltd. for an enterprise value of JPY 57,361
million, subject to closing adjustments.
with Sandoz, which will take effect from completion The divested business recorded revenues
of the transaction, for the of JPY 14,241 million in H1, FY 2020.
supply of active
pharmaceutical
ingredients,
semi-finished
and finished
goods
related to
the portfolio of
divested brands.

START-UP NEWS 13

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Biofourmis partners Healthians
Novartis to tackle heart failure secures
$12M to
Singapore based expand
presence
healthtech startup in India

Biofourmis is Indian Healthtech
startup Healthians
collaborating with has raised $12 million
in Series B round led
Swiss pharmaceutical by Japan-based DG
Incubation and DG
giant Novartis to start Daiwa Ventures. Other
investors included
a digital therapeutics Kotak PE, Trifecta,
Tokio Marine and
programme for Singapore-based fund
Mistletoe. Healthians,
patients with heart which offers healthcare
services at home
failure in South- or off-clinic, is
planning to use the
east Asia. Through funds to expand its
geographical presence
the partnership, and penetrate deeper
into the cities it
patients on Novartis’ heart failure from heart failure in the region already operates
by June 2021. For now, the in. In addition, it
medication will also be prescribed programme will be available in plans to enhance
six countries in South-east Asia, its technological
Biofourmis’ digital therapeutics including Singapore, Malaysia and capabilities and
Thailand. Biofourmis has plans to introduce new
programme to monitor recovery expand this programme globally. products for the
users. In 2019,
for at least three months. The the company has
managed to expand
programme hopes to reach out to over 30 cities and
is now prepping up to
to one million patients suffering penetrate deeper into
these cities by 2021.
A*STAR to establish Moreover, it claims
multiplex path lab to have over 7.5 lakh
customers and offers
Singapore based startup A!maginostic (A!), an A*STAR spin-off them insights on
that specialises in computational digital pathology, and the Agency how to improve their
for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) based Institute lifestyles by running an
of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have launched a joint digital AI-backed algorithm.
immuno-oncology laboratory on November 25 in Singapore. Located
at IMCB, the new IMCB-A!maginostic Joint Lab of Excellence aims to
provide artificial
intelligence (AI)
and machine
learning (ML)
solutions to support
computational
digital and multiplex
pathology, by
integrating multi-
modality images and
clinical data, including
patient treatment
and survival status.
Through this
partnership, the lab’s goal is to speed up and improve the workflow of
pathologists, enabling more accurate diagnosis for cancer which can help
to speed up drug development for treatment. The lab will support the
medical and research communities and will be open to partner biotech
companies to develop new capabilities in digital pathology.

14 START-UP NEWS

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Co-working space Lucence raises $20M to
for biotech startups advance liquid biopsy
opens in Singapore
Lucence, a genomic medicine company based in
Singapore-based NSG BioLabs, a new incubator Singapore that invents blood-based tests for cancer
for biotech startups, has officially launched the screening and treatment selection, has announced the
first co-working laboratory and office space in close of $20 million in Series A funding. The round
the city-state’s research and development hub for was led by IHH Healthcare, one of the world’s largest
biomedical sciences. Located at Biopolis Road, integrated private healthcare groups. SGInnovate,
NSG BioLabs aims to help small biotech startups together with existing investors Temasek Holdings
commercialize breakthrough innovations with a subsidiary Heliconia Capital, Lim Kaling, Koh Boon
flexible and fully equipped R&D environment. Hwee and others, also participated in the round. This
The company is part of Nest.Bio Group, which funding will enable the company to provide its liquid
runs a venture capital arm and laboratory spaces biopsy technology to more patients across Asia and
in China and the US. It is also the first private North America for personalized treatment selection.
biotech incubator in Singapore that was tapped Lucence will also embark on new prospective clinical
by Enterprise Singapore to serve as a partner for studies to evaluate its technology for the early
its Startup SG Accelerator. detection of multiple cancers.

Fosun Pharma inks $148M deal with US biotech startup

US based biotech startup As part of this agreement
MimiVax LLC and Shanghai MimiVax will receive $10
Fosun Pharmaceutical million upfront payment and
Industrial Development Co. is eligible to receive additional
Ltd. have announced that the potential development and
companies have entered into sales milestone payments of
a China-exclusive licensing up to $28 million and $110
agreement for SurVaxM, a novel million, respectively. SurVaxM
anti-cancer immunotherapy in is designed to stimulate the
the treatment of glioblastoma immune system to kill tumor
brain cancers. Under terms of cells that contain survivin, a
the agreement, Fosun Pharma protein that helps cancer cells
Industrial and MimiVax, will resist conventional treatments.
seek to clinically develop and SurVaxM triggers T-cell
commercialize SurVaxM to immunity simultaneously with
make it available for patients in unique antibody-mediated anti-
specified territories in China. tumor responses.

WHO NEWS 15

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WHO launches first-ever WHO signs MoU
insulin prequalification with IGBA to promote
programme access of medicines

The World Health Organization (WHO) has Full access to medicines is hampered by a variety
announced the start of a pilot programme to of factors. Two important barriers are high prices
prequalify human insulin to increase treatment and regulatory issues such as long lag times in
for diabetes in low- and middle-income countries. bringing medicines to market. To address these
The decision is part of a series of steps WHO will issues, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World
take to address the growing diabetes burden in Health Organization (WHO) Director-General,
all regions. About 65 million people with type 2 and Jim Keon, Chair of the International Generic
diabetes need insulin, but only half of them are able and Biosimilar Medicines Association (IGBA)
to access it, largely due to high prices. All people have signed a memorandum of understanding
with type 1 diabetes (MoU). The new agreement is an important step
need insulin to survive. in WHO’s drive towards universal health coverage
WHO prequalification by underscoring the importance of generic and
of insulin is expected to biosimilar medicines to increasing access to
boost access by increasing affordable, quality treatment. WHO is an active
the flow of quality- supporter of expanding use of generic medicines:
assured products on the The vast majority of the products in the WHO
international market, Essential Medicines List are generic. The new
providing countries agreement between WHO and IGBA highlights
with greater choice and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in helping
patients with lower prices. WHO maintain tools that can facilitate registration
Insulin prequalification of generic and biosimilar medicines.
is one of a number of steps WHO will take in
the coming year to address the diabetes burden.
Plans are underway to update diabetes treatment
guidelines, devise price reduction strategies for
analogues and improve delivery systems and access
to diagnostics. WHO also works with countries to
promote healthier diets and physical activity to
lower people’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

WHO puts focus on Sterile Insect Technique

A technique that sterilizes male Special Programme for Research in partnership with the Food and
mosquitoes using radiation will and Training in Tropical Diseases Agriculture Organization of the
soon be tested as part of global (TDR) and the International United Nations (FAO), and World
health efforts to control diseases Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Health Organization (WHO) have
such as chikungunya, dengue, developed a guidance document
and Zika. The Sterile Insect for countries that have expressed
Technique (SIT) is a form of interest in testing the Sterile
insect birth control. The process Insect Technique (SIT) for Aedes
involves rearing large quantities mosquitoes. TDR, the Special
of sterilized male mosquitoes Programme for Research and
in dedicated facilities, and then Training in Tropical Diseases, is
releasing them to mate with a global programme of scientific
females in the wild. As they do not collaboration that helps facilitate,
produce any offspring, the insect support and influence efforts to
population declines over time. The combat diseases of poverty.

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Merck to advance
diabetes care in Africa

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany

recently marked ‘World Diabetes Day 2019’ by building diabetes

care capacity in Africa and Asia. Merck Foundation is providing

African Union to for One-Year Diploma in Diabetes Management and Preventive

accelerate vital Cardiovascular Medicine from University of South Wales, UK.

health goals Moreover, Merck Foundation is providing for French Speaking

The African Union (AU) countries the ‘Master course in the Clinical Management of Diabetes’
Commission and the World
Health Organization (WHO) in French, accredited by the
have signed an historic
Memorandum of Understanding Royal College of General
(MoU) cementing their mutual
commitment to expand and Practitioners, United
deepen their relationship and
cooperation. The key areas of the Kingdom. So far, Merck
collaboration include providing
technical expertise to the African Foundation has already
Medicines Agency (AMA) and
creating an enabling environment enrolled more than 180
to foster local production of
medicines; Strengthening candidates under their ‘Merck
collaboration between the Africa
Centers for Disease Control and Nationwide Diabetes Blue
Prevention (Africa CDC) and
WHO, with a particular focus Point Project’ from 34 African
on emergency preparedness,
to build AU Member States’ and Asian Countries including
defenses against epidemics and
other health emergencies. It Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia,
is also focused on supporting
the implementation of the Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic
Addis Ababa Call to Action on
universal health coverage and of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia,
the AU Declaration on Domestic
Financing. Endorsed by the Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria,
African Union Summit earlier
this year, the Call to Action is a Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri
commitment by African Union
countries to increase domestic Lanka, Tanzania, Gambia, UAE, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
investment in health, and to be
accountable for that commitment. GE Healthcare launches
WHO will facilitate a dialogue ultrasound machines in Uganda
between Health and Finance
Ministers to help countries GE Healthcare has announced the launch of Versana Premier and
develop strong and sustainable Versana Essential for the first time in Uganda. The Versana Premier
health financing models. ultrasound system can help deliver high-quality, personalised
care. The innovative system is well suited for general practice
clinics, physical check-up centres, community health clinics, and
other facilities offering basic medical care. It also comes with local
product and clinical training to help healthcare professionals
gain comfort and proficiency with the system to enhance patient
care. Versana Essential is a complete ultrasound solution that
healthcare professionals can learn to use quickly and productively.
It enables confident clinical decision making for quick referrals and
immediate clinical correlation to help scan a wide range of patients.
The machine is designed with the growing medical centre in mind,
to provide the clinical capability and support they want without
compromising the quality, reliability and affordability needed.

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COLLABORATION –

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION FOR

BIG (PHARMA & TECH)

According to an EY report, between 2013 and 2017, Alphabet (Google’s parent

company) filed 186 health-related patents, Microsoft – 73 and Apple – 54, which

is a 38 per cent increase in the number of such patents by these three companies

every two years. The report further noted that such a competition poses a new

challenge to pharma, and argued that health companies should capitalise on the

data they gather to create digital solutions helping patients with their health. Many

of the challenges that healthcare industry can be solved with the availability of

state-of-the-art digital health solutions. Moving forward it will become imperative

for pharma and tech firms to collaborate and this joint collaboration will create a

new market that has more than enough potential for both sides.

According to Deloitte, the healthcare
market will be a $10 trillion business
by 2022, and obviously different
players are vouching to have the biggest
slice of the pie. Big Tech’s fascination with
healthcare is well known with the likes of
Google, Amazon & Apple announcing new

project in life sciences
practically every day.
Life sciences
companies have
also responded
to this
potential
disruption
with
their own
exploratory
programs,
using artificial
intelligence
(AI), and
other digital
technologies
to improve or
optimize clinical

trial recruitment, drug
discovery and interactions

18 COVER STORY

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with payers and physicians. pharmaceuticals
An analysis by EY shows that even major clinical are produced. Through
the PhD programs, the
breakthroughs face the prospect of diminishing Novartis-MIT Center is piloting
returns as cost-conscious payers require proof of new continuous manufacturing
real-world value. As life sciences companies expand research with Industry 4.0 artificial
their digital efforts, however, the investments are intelligence with Novartis investing
too often made in isolation of each other. As a $65 million in research activities for a
result, companies are at risk of under investing in period of 10 years.
the technologies that will transform their business
models and generate significant future top-line Another area where pharma firms are
returns. increasingly applying new tech is clinical trials.
Historically, clinical trials have been expensive and
Block chain, cloud, AI, and robotics are some time consuming process. In addition challenges in
of the technologies disrupting healthcare. These clinical trials include data fragmentation, inefficient
technologies are helping with prevention, helping operations and limited value for patients. But now
patients monitor and manage chronic conditions, pharma companies are looking to leverage the latest
lowering the cost of healthcare provision, and making technologies to reach patients in a more targeted way.
medicine more tailored to individual needs. AI and ML help in implementing a more patient-
centric, technology-enabled approach to research,
While most of the tech firms in healthcare are and increase the number and diversity of clinical
focused on digital healthcare or with e-pharmacies, research participants. Companies like Novartis,
pharma firms are collaborating with tech firms to Pfizer and Merck & Co. are investing in innovative
apply tech to transform mostly their research and approaches to strive to enrich clinical trial data and
development. The one tech where pharma is betting augment decision making by utilizing digital health
big is AI – from Novartis to Eli Lily, they are working technologies and real-time data access.
with AI firms to accelerate the process of drug
discovery. The predictive and analytic powers of AI Apart from collaborating with the tech firms for
enable companies to make smarter, faster, and more improving their workflow, pharma firms are also
strategic decisions. AI increase drug development increasingly funding health tech and digital health
efficiency. startups. While the pharma sector does have a
history of investment into digital health, such as
There’s no doubt that pharma firms generate a lot Johnson and Johnson Innovation in Getwell Network
of data. With the help of newer technologies like AI, or Merck in ImpactRx, both in 2009, such deals
Machine Learning (ML) and Analytics, they are able were few and far between. However, in the past
to analyze data that they gathered in order to design three years, corporates including Merck, Roche, and
treatments that are more personalized and more GlaxoSmithKline have picked up the pace of digital
effective. health investment, noted a report in CB insights.

AI will be critical to the future of pharma as the Merck, while participating in deals as far back
amount of available data and monitoring devices as 2009, has increased its deal activity over the
increase. AI helps in collecting and aggregating past three years. Most investments pass through
disparate data sets and identify patterns which in their VC arm, the Global Health Innovation Fund,
turn will generate more insights. The real potential which has made 24 equity investments since 2009.
of AI and machine learning helps in enabling pharma The fund invests growth capital, typically between
companies to be smarter, faster, and more cost $5-7 million, in sectors of digital health such as
efficient. A data-driven approach can discover aspects patient engagement, population health, and remote
that are of vital and strategic importance, thereby monitoring, the report further mentioned. Other
enhancing the ability to make critical decisions. firms to invest include Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline.

AI can identify even the slightest change in air According to Linchpin SEO, besides clinical trials,
quality or temperature changes on the shop floor pharma manufacturing is more progressive with new
24 hours a day and respond immediately for sterile technologies than other areas of the pharma industry.
manufacturing requirements. It is critical to catch Robotic technology and artificial intelligence are
any potential problem before it damages a product reducing manufacturing floor downtime and product
which may cause a costly shutdown, a massive
product recall, or require equipment replacement.
Back in 2007, Novartis and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) launched a long-term
research collaboration aimed at transforming the way

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waste. its brands and products. Eventually the
Single- partnership will expand to offer subscriptions
use disposable for prescription medications, real-time interaction
solutions are with medical providers, and at-home visits by
replacing open transfer doctors.
manufacturing techniques for Novartis made an important step in reimagining
safer storage and drug transport. medicine by founding the Novartis AI innovation
Many leading pharma and medtech lab and by selecting Microsoft as its strategic AI and
companies have started to put efforts in transforming data-science partner for this effort in October 2019.
themselves to create more value for patients and The new lab aims to bolster Novartis AI capabilities
embrace opportunities in the digital era. Johnson from research through commercialization and
& Johnson is one of them. The company operates help accelerate the discovery and development of
over 250 companies. In recent years, the company transformative medicines for patients worldwide.
has remade itself into a health-technology innovator As part of the strategic collaboration, Novartis and
in many ways viz digitalizing products to improve Microsoft have committed to a multi-year research
healthcare outcomes for patients and robotizing and development effort. Microsoft and Novartis will
surgery. Moving forward, IoT will have a big impact also collaborate to develop and apply next-generation
on how J&J manufactures and distributes products AI platforms and processes that support future
internally and how their products interact with programs across these two focus areas. The overall
patients externally. The firm is also working on investment will include project funding, subject-
applying AI in the discovery and development. Let’s matter experts, technology, and tools.
look at how the life sciences companies are using During October, Bayer has signed collaboration
these techs: agreements with 11 digital health startups. As part
of the program, Bayer will support these startup
Partnerships between companies aiming for longer-term collaborations
Big Pharma & Big Tech to drive forward the development of specific
digital solutions to improve patients’ health in
It is common knowledge that Big Techs are the fields of cardiovascular diseases, oncology,
increasingly investing in healthcare, but of late Big ophthalmology, pulmonology, radiology as well as
Pharma’s have also started putting money in tech digital therapeutics. The participating healthcare
for the betterment. In November 2019, during the startup companies were selected by Bayer from over
second China International Import Expo in Shanghai, 750 applications out of 65 countries based on the
Sanofi Pasteur inked a pact to establish cooperation strategic fit, development stage of the project, and
with Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group’s the assessment of internal experts. India’s Wellthy
healthcare arm to build a vaccination cloud platform, Therapeutics was one of the 11 startups chosen for
offer related information online and location-based the program. Wellthy Therapeutics has a clinically
vaccine search services. It also pledged to develop an validated behavioral intervention platform to help
intelligent clinic through a tie-up with an affiliated people change their behaviors and reduce their risk
company to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This of chronic disease.
was done in the hope of streamlining the entire Eli Lilly and Company inked a multi-year
process and better managing the safety of vaccines. agreement with US based Atomwise Inc in June
The key functions include online reservation, facial 2019, to apply its patented AI technology in support
recognition, smart cold chain delivery, and an of Lilly’s preclinical drug discovery efforts. The
intelligent observation area, said a report in China companies will collaborate on up to ten drug targets
daily. selected by Lilly, with the goal of accelerating the
time it takes to identify and develop potential new
That’s not all. In April 2019, Sanofi has partnered medicines.
with Rappi, a Latin American on-demand delivery Atomwise Inc. invented the first deep learning AI
startup that recently reached unicorn valuation to technology for structure-based small molecule drug
offer healthcare services in Latin America. Initially, discovery. Today, it performs hundreds of projects
Sanofi will use Rappi’s app to market and promote per year in partnership with some of the world’s
largest pharmaceutical and agrochemical companies,
as well as more than one hundred universities and
hospitals in 19 countries. Atomwise has raised over

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$50 million from leading venture capital firms to strategy. Acquisitions of startups and smaller
support the development and application of its AI companies allow them to feed on the domain-
technology. knowledge they themselves are lacking. For instance,
Google/Alphabet allocates a third of its venture-
Lilly is a recognized leader in virtual library funding to healthcare and life sciences start-ups while
design, with a massive number of molecules enabled Amazon just bought PillPack for $750 million and the
by automated synthesis in their robotic laboratory. accompanying direct access to about 40’000 patients
Identifying which of these molecules might be a and the license to sell prescription drugs.
potentially new therapeutic for specific diseases is a
scientific and analytical challenge, and that is well It may not stop there. By leveraging consumer
suited for Atomwise’s AI technology. devices at a medical level, Big Tech can collect
even more health-data from real world end points
In May this year, AbbVie, a research-based and thus creating an invaluable feedback loop. Big
global biopharmaceutical company, and MC10, Inc., Pharma on the other hand seems to prefer a more
a healthcare technology company specializing in collaborative approach: A current survey shows that
wearable digital health sensors, are working together 82% of medical R&D leaders plan to collaborate with
on clinical trials designed to explore a range of organizations outside of MedTech & Pharma. One of
outcome measures in patients with multiple sclerosis the ideas is to use the services and platforms of Big
(MS) using the BioStamp nPoint system. The 510(k) Tech to build their own health solutions on top of
cleared BioStamp nPoint System was developed for them. Current examples are Novartis joining forces
use in clinical trials and other applications for the with Microsoft to transform medicine with artificial
continuous collection of physiological data and is intelligence and other Big Pharma companies using
optimized for both in-home and in-clinic use. The Verily’s Project Baseline to speed up clinical trials.
system reports vital signs, activity and postural
classifications and a suite of sleep metrics. The Strengths and weaknesses
BioStamp nPoint System is in use today by numerous
pharmaceutical companies and in academic research While competing for the same market, both
across several therapeutic areas. players bring along their distinctive strengths and
weaknesses. By 2025, 463 exabytes (EB) of data will
During the same month, Verily, an Alphabet be created every day and most of it can somehow help
company (Google’s parent firm), has formed strategic us to understand how the human body works and
alliances with Novartis, Otsuka, Pfizer and Sanofi (to how human behaviour influences health. Currently
develop digitally innovative, patient-centered clinical only Big Tech has the technical capabilities to handle
research programs using Project Baseline’s evidence this huge amount of data. More than anything else,
generation platform and tools). The Baseline Platform the access to and handling of extensive health data
is designed to engage more patients and clinicians in from the consumer market is a big advantage of Big
research increase the speed and ease of conducting
studies and collect more comprehensive, higher quality
data, including outside the four walls of a clinic.

Challenges and Opportunities
between Big Pharma and Big Tech

According to Zühlke report, in the last few years
one can able to observe a large – and entirely
new – field of tension in the health industry. Big
Pharma companies, specialized in developing new
drugs and producing them at large scale, were
suddenly challenged by big tech companies like
Apple and Google that were entering the scene
with large investments and access to a previously
unseen amount of data. Luckily for Big Pharma,
those entrances were often accompanied by a lack of
experience in regulated environments and sometimes
also an exaggerated optimism.

The latest activities of Big Tech companies now
allow the conclusion that their way of pushing into
the health business is mainly based on an expansion

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Tech. However, looking closer at the data collected, requires a vast amount of special skills which are
it often cannot meet the quality requirements for usually attributed only to either side. The following
medical use. Big Pharma is conducting thousands of building pattern has been derived from numerous
clinical trials were the data has a very good quality. digital-health projects Zühlke currently observes.
Thus, with quality over quantity, Big Pharma is again
ahead of Big Tech. Let’s start with a classic medical device where
mechatronics, embedded software and regulatory
Zühlke noted that another point to consider are know-how are mandatory for development. If the
the general conditions of the health market. The device aims to employ a closed loop system, the
strong regulations of the health industry certainly needed skill set is already expanded by additional
represent a big hurdle for Big Tech when entering expertise for sensor-design and sensor-integration.
this field. Since human lives are endangered,
legislation has introduced strong gates for new If the device is a combination product,
products. The safety and effectiveness of new pharmaceutical experts get involved and production
products must be proven by the manufacturer before engineers and GxP experts are needed. Modern
they can enter the market. Big Tech is not used to device design does not stop there, though:
formal safety arguments and to handling complex Connectivity expertise must be integrated into the
regulatory requirements. development team to master the vast amount of
technologies like GSM, BT, NFC etc.
Big Pharma on the other hand has learned how
to guarantee the safety and effectiveness of their At this point, it is vital to start looking to the Big
products and has developed strategies to handle that Tech world. Without a solid security concept, data
topic. They have also built a strong relationship with is at risk and since we want to engage with patients
notified bodies and regulatory agencies that is hard to and practitioners, we need a frontend. This requires
infiltrate. Finally, Big Pharma has the pharmaceutical security and user experience (UX) experts as well
and biological knowledge crucial for the development as web- and app-developers in the team. Last but
of new cures as well as the capability to build the not least, since everything is managed in the cloud,
corresponding manufacturing infrastructure. we need a cloud expert who selects the appropriate
platform and designs the architecture while data
Collaboration is the key engineers make sure that the collected data is
stored so that data scientists can generate valuable
It becomes obvious that each side has advantages information from the data. Neither Big Tech nor
that could compensate for the weaknesses of the Big Pharma will be able to attract all these experts
other side. But there is something even more alone. Therefore, the only sustainable solution is a
important that will force Big Pharma and Big Tech collaboration.
to collaborate: People. Developing a state-of-the-
art digital health solution is a demanding task that Ayesha Siddiqui
[email protected]

22 ANALYSIS

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Why is China getting
the upper hand?

Although China’s healthcare sector began privatizing in the 1990s, it has made significant
improvement in the last two decades. The country has benefited from large-scale reforms of its
medical infrastructure, insurance system, as well as government policies. While healthcare in
the US is the second largest sector by market cap, it ranks eighth in China, but the government is
working towards improving this. The Chinese government is bullish on making a China a favorable
destination for healthcare and to provide world class health at cheaper costs. The country has
doubled the amount it’s investing into public hospitals in the last five years to $38 billion. China’s
healthcare industry projected to be worth $2.4 trillion by 2030, more than double its size now. Will
all this be enough to surpass the US healthcare system, which is considered highly advanced and

developed? Let’s take a look.

The United States remains the largest healthcare keep pace with the rising prices, which adversely
market on global panorama primarily due to its affects adherence to therapy. Payers/insurers have
advanced healthcare infrastructure combined become reluctant to include drugs that do not show
with extensive investment in R&D space and various the desired outcomes in their formularies. This is
patient assistance programmes supported by both in sharp contrast to the traditional product-push
government as well as non-government bodies. approach. With this trend, the responsibility of
Despite these positives, the geography is facing a ensuring the benefits of insurance has shifted to
downward pressure on pricing and a strong focus drug manufacturers, making them more accountable
on prevention over cure. Pricing is one of the major for therapy outcomes,” said Sapna Jha, Senior
challenges for the market. Industry Analyst, Technavio.

“The overwhelming challenge with US healthcare Digital Health
is the medical costs. The US spends nearly 20
per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and Sinopharm, are
on healthcare – far more than nearly all other applying their technological expertise to healthcare
economies. At a population level, it is difficult by providing services like WeDoctor to optimize
to show that any favorable health is achieved hospital management and device distribution and
for this additional cost. It is also a system that is maintenance. Many health-tech efforts are Artificial
tremendously complicated, costly and inconvenient Intelligence (AI) based to take advantage of China’s
for consumers to navigate. So at the population level, deep data pool with 1.4+ billion people and its
the additional spending does not seem to achieve a favourable regulatory environment that encourages
favorable experience for consumers the advancements in AI, says a report by GlobalX.
either. That’s why US Citizens
generally rate healthcare among According to Yiou Intelligence, a Beijing-based
the very bottom of industries consultancy firm, some 131 Chinese companies are
they do business with” said currently working on applying AI in healthcare.
Sharon Hakkennes, Senior
Director Analyst, Gartner. Healthcare professionals lead adoption of digital
health technology and mobile health apps with a 94
The US Government focus on per cent usage penetration compared to 76 per cent
reducing healthcare costs is set to for U.S, according to the 2019 Future Health Index.
become a major hurdle for drug manufacturers while
determining the cost of their products. “China has been growingly focusing more towards
digitizing its healthcare system through various
“Consumers face the brunt of soaring drug promotions and campaigns. However, considering
prices, especially as reimbursements have failed to strong R&D base of the US with most of the global
vendors headquartered in the US, China seems to

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have a long way to turn the equation upside down Who is investing in healthcare
against US,” said Jha. overseas, the US or China?

Could the Chinese digital healthcare sector upend ● The US companies are investing selectively
US healthcare? “You can certainly imagine scenarios globally. There are certain kinds of
where that could happen. We do not see evidence of technology that don’t export very well.
that today among purchasers in the US or globally
currently. In a favorable regulatory environment ● In 2019, the US is leading in overseas
with secure legal protections for patient data and healthcare investments. China is drastically
intellectual property, you could imagine Chinese increasing its healthcare investments
digital health companies offering more nimble, AI overseas.
enabled, and affordable software in established
enterprise software spaces like EHR, CRM, claims ● The overseas healthcare investments from
processing, care management and the like. You China is likely to reduce since the trade war
would see that first in replacement started in 2018
deals of US companies globally.
If that proved successful for it has been used successfully in China) and in other
the early organizations it medical technologies. The US government has not
could transition quickly to only banned Huawei in the US, but it has also lobbied
others,” said Jeff Cribbs, other countries not to use the technology, noted a
Vice President, Analyst, report in The Lancet.
Gartner.
In 2018, China’s healthcare expenditure was $777
Trade War impact billion and accounted for 5.7 per cent of China’s GDP,
which is a far lower percentage than countries like the
Both the US and China have tried to avoid disputes US (17 per cent), according to Export.gov, a website
that directly affect the national healthcare system of run by the International Trade Administration (ITA)
these countries. However, as the trade war expands and the United States Department of Commerce.
into a technology ban, it is likely to affect the As China’s population ages, income improves, rise,
healthcare industry in both countries. private health care services multiply, and technology
advances, the growth trajectory of China’s health care
“The imposition of tariffs has increased the sector is likely to command investor attention.
burden of healthcare costs on domestic patients and
medical funds. Thus, the US government exempted Ayesha Siddiqui
crude drugs, pharmaceutical preparations, and [email protected]
low-end medical devices from the original tariff list
and the Chinese government excluded drugs from
taxation and have removed tariffs on most imported
drugs. However, the US government imposes a 25 per
cent tariff on high-end medical devices from China,
and the government of China imposes a tariff of
5–25 per cent on high-value consumables and some
medical devices imported from the US. The increase
in cost of these devices and consumables could affect
the accessibility of these facilities for people with low
incomes,” said Jha.

However Cribbs said “We have not seen an impact
on healthcare technology.”

Technology, minerals, and products from both
China and the US are an indispensable part of the
global healthcare industry, and changes in the supply
chain will ultimately affect healthcare. For example,
Huawei is one of the world leading developers of 5G
technology, and the sanctions enforced by the US
government against the company might affect the
development of 5G networks and the global use of the
communication technology in telemedicine (where

24 AUSTRALIA REPORT

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

More biotech companies
moving into ASX 200

More biotech companies are moving into the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) 200,
with two new companies recently joining the list: PolyNovo (PNV) and Avita Medical
(AVH). This movement demonstrates the healthy biotech pipeline in Australia, with more
small to medium enterprises (SMEs) progressing through as the life sciences sector
grows and matures.

AusBiotech, Australia’s peak biotechnology New entrants to ASX
industry association, released updated
figures of the industry on October 30, with PolyNovo Limited (PNV) – who was awarded
the new sector ‘snapshot’ revealing momentous Company of the Year at the AusBiotech 2019
growth across the Australian life sciences sector conference in October – was admitted into
over the past two years. ASX-listed companies the ASX200 in early September and, as at
have increased from 140 companies in 2017, to November 20, 2019, had a market cap of $1.4
over 160 in 2019. The value of these companies billion. The company has commercialised a
has grown to over $170 billion, demonstrating the unique bio-resorbable polymer, NovoSorb,
opportunities available for investment. for use in medical devices. The first product
is NovoSorb BTM, a dermal scaffold, for the
Healthcare represents almost 10 per cent of regeneration of lost dermis through surgical
total index market cap of the ASX 200, with CSL excision, truama, infection or burns.
holding just over six per cent. Other AusBiotech
members included on the list are: Sonic Clinical Avita Medical (AVH) has also joined the
Trials (a subsiderary of Sonic Healthcare - SHL), ASX200, just two months after being added
Cochlear Limited (COH); and Nanosonics Limited to the S&P/ASX 300 index. The regenerative
(NAN). medicine company’s technology platform is
positioned to address unmet medical needs
The research report confirmed that there is a in burns, chronic wounds, and aesthetics
12 per cent growth in the number of organisations, indications. Its market cap as at November 20,
growing from approximately 1,654 to 1,852, and 2019 was $1 billion.
a five per cent growth in employees, increasing
from 232,213 people to 243,406 between 2017 and
2019.

The majority of the workforce is found in
industry (36 per cent, 87,397 people). When
compared to the employee numbers reported in
2017, there has been a 5 per cent overall increase
in the number of people employed by the sector
(from 232,213 in 2017). Similarly, since 2017 there
has been a 6 per cent increase in the number of
people employed by industry and a 2 per cent
increase in the research workforce.

The Australian life sciences sector is a thriving
and mature sector. The nation has a well-
deserved global reputation as a leading location
for innovations to be developed into real-world
solutions via industry. The sector encompasses
companies and organisations in industry, funding

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bodies, government & regulatory, research Highlights of the Report
institutes and support services.
● Victoria and New South Wales are critical
The Sector Snapshot 2019 was commissioned hubs of the life sciences sector
by AusBiotech to provide an updated overview of
the sector in Australia, in terms of organisation ● More than 161 life sciences companies are
and employment numbers across the country, listed on the ASX (up 15% from 140 in 2017)
and gender distribution within the sector, to and represents a market capitalisation of
determine how the sector has changed since 2017 approximately $170 Billion
when this data was collected for the first time. The
largest growth of 50 per cent was seen in Western ● The life sciences industry has grown by 16%
Australia, with the number of organisations since 2017
increasing from 119 companies in 2017 to 179
companies in 2019. ● There are 1,852 organisations in the life
sciences sector up 12% from 1,654 in 2017
The research shows that 55 per cent of the
1,852 organisations are industry-based: 1,017 ● There are approximately 243,406 people
companies employ 87,397 individuals. The employed in the life sciences sector up 5%
number of companies has grown by an impressive since 2017
16 per cent since 2017, and is the highest employer
of the life sciences workforce (36 per cent). ● Women represent 51% of the life sciences
workforce and in industry this is only 32%
The Australian life sciences industry is
dominated by the medical technologies and (87,870 people) and New South Wales (88,338
digital health companies (387), followed by people), together making up 72 per cent of the
pharmaceutical companies (340) and then food workforce. Accordingly, Queensland has the third-
and agriculture companies (290). Each of these largest proportion of the life sciences workforce in
areas has seen a growth of 19 per cent, 21 per cent Australia (27,707).
and 7 per cent respectively since 2017. About 86
per cent (875) of these industry companies are In terms of gender equity, women form 51
classified as small to medium enterprises (SMEs). per cent of the workforce across the life sciences
sector and this has not varied markedly since 2017
ASX listed life science companies have (50 per cent). However, women in industry are
increased 15 per cent since 2017; there are now still under-represented in industry (32 per cent).
161 companies compared to 140 previously Despite this, there has been a marginal increase in
reported in 2017. In terms of the economic impact the percentage of executive-level women (21 per
of the sector, these companies have a market cent to 25 per cent) and female board members (13
capitalisation of approximately $170 billion. per cent to 15 percent) when compared to 2017.

Victoria is the largest life sciences state for The substantial strength of the life sciences
industry, with 32,849 employees across 372 sector, shown in the Sector Snapshot 2019 through
organisations. New South Wales is a close second, the growing numbers of organisations and the
with 31,365 employees across 365 organisations. people employed within it, depicts an actively
Together, the two states represent almost 73 per thriving ecosystem. With the Australian life
cent of the life sciences industry in Australia. sciences sector reaching maturity, the additional,
snowballing effects are beginning to be seen:
Almost three-fourths of the entire life sciences more companies, more skills and more potential
sector is based in Victoria (707 organisations; solutions being worked on.
38 per cent) and New South Wales (652
organisations; 35 per cent). Queensland has the The life sciences sector has been identified
third largest number of life sciences organisations by the federal government as a strategic priority
(203; 11 per cent), remaining steady from 2017. for Australia’s future, and accordingly a strong
Western Australia has shown the greatest increase commitment has been made by the government,
(50 per cent) in the number of organisations, in terms of both financial and infrastructural
going from 119 in 2017 to 179 in 2019. South support to further nurture growth in this area.
Australia and Tasmania have shown no marked High-tech industries generate globally competitive
change in the size of their life sciences sectors economies and sustainable, high-skilled jobs and
since 2017. the flourishing Australian life sciences sector
presented in this snapshot is certainly poised to
The highest proportion of all people employed compete on the world stage in a knowledge-based
in the life sciences sector are based in Victoria economy.

26 SPEAKING WITH

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

“Asia Pacific region is beginning
to endorse stem cell treatments”

« disorders, Ophthalmology diseases, Infertility and
Cosmetic Procedures. Despite challenges unclear
Vipul Jain, government regulations, Advancells currently
CEO, Advancells, conducts 15-20 treatments in a month. Its work
India force has doubled over the past few months and
the company is on a high growth trajectory since
Transfiguring the face of medicine, Advancells inception. Passionate about the possibilities and
was established in the year 2013. Delving in unlimited potential of adult stem cells, the company
the field of stem cell therapies, the company aims to continue delivering technology for safe and
has been futuristically conceptualized to further effective treatment of a wider base of patients in
modern medicine. Headquartered in Noida it has accordance with the highest medical standards across
representative offices in Bangladesh and Australia. the country. BioSpectrum Asia spoke to Vipul Jain,
Breaking the stereotype regarding stem cell companies CEO, Advancells, India about the growth of stem cell
that most often offer arrangements for stem cell treatments in Asia Pacific region. Edited excerpts;
banking, this is one of the few organisations in India
that focuses the therapeutic usage of stem cells for a Advancells was started in 2013 and completed
variety of life threatening and life style diseases. It five years. What is your journey in the last five
also works on writing protocols for partner doctors years?
and hospitals which they can use for treating the In the last five years, we have grown our business
patients using regenerative medicine. Advancells is a where doctors, hospitals, research institutes, pharma
GMP compliant research and processing center that companies have tagged along in order to cure our
works on different cell lines from various sources
such as Bone Marrow, Adipose Tissue, Dental Pulp,
Blood, Cord Tissue etc. It also intends to file a patent
for this processing technology in the near future. The
company is also associated with “Champions of Change
– Transforming India through G2B partnership”
initiative of Government of India.

The company maintains superlative scientific and
ethical traditions through & Good Manufacturing
Practices & assessment of a case followed by the
explanation of protocol, risks and rewards to the
patient in detail.

The procedure is performed at one of the many
partner hospitals spread throughout the country
and few foreign locations as well. Later, the team at
Advancells follows up with the patient for the post-
treatment procedures. Stem cells have the potential
to intervene in all medical conditions. The key areas
of the company deals in are Diabetes, Neurological
conditions, Orthopedics, Chronic Kidney Diseases,
Lung diseases, Liver Diseases, Autoimmune

SPEAKING WITH 27

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patients. We have set up our B2C protocols in a way Advancells deals in are Diabetes, Neurological
that we offer unparalleled services at reasonable value conditions, Orthopedics, Chronic Kidney Diseases,
and have created a goodwill in the market. Lung diseases, Liver Diseases, Autoimmune
disorders, Ophthalmology diseases, Infertility
What is the current status of the company in and Cosmetic Procedures. Why the company has
terms of number of treatments it has done so far; opted the above areas of treatment?
Tie ups with hospitals in the country and abroad; When we started Advancells, we aimed at becoming a
strength of the team (Doctors and scientist pioneer in the research and development of regenerative
working at the company); how much investment medicine. We wanted to have India at the forefront of
has been invested into the company? protocols and technologies in the industry and so we
Our core team involves Dr Sachin Kada, our CTO; decided to venture into a wide array of services. In
Shraddha Gautam, Head of Lab; and Meenu Jain, order to become a center of medical advancement, we
Head of Digital Marketing apart from our huge had to ensure we offered services to all sorts of patients,
network of hospitals, centres, schools, colleges, irrespective of their condition. We believe in treating
doctors, and pharma companies who have been our patients in a progressive manner.
contributing in their own unique manner. Recently,
we signed an MoU with Manav Rachna International How do you see the market opportunities for
Institute to promote industry-academic collaboration. stem cell treatment in India and outside the
country?
We work with more than 50 hospitals across India Stem cell research is gaining a lot of popularity in the
and more than 25 institutes. We cater to almost 1000 biomedical science ecosystem. It is known to possess a
new patients each year. As this mode of therapy gets potential to advance cell biology and become a catalyst
more popular and standardized, we expect more and in treating several untreatable diseases. It’s ability
more patients to get benefit of regenerative medicine to shape-shift into a variety of cell types in the body
where they can manage and cure a variety of lifestyle is helping India to promote this field in a cohesive
and life threatening diseases that do not currently manner. India is taking initiatives which include –
have a cure in contemporary medicine. Advancells is setting up institutes for stem cell and regenerative
completely bootstrapped. We invested closer to $5 medicine research, collaborating with schools and
million as initial investment. medical centers to establish clean room facilities,
creating a network national and international
trainer to teach young students about the potential
of embryonic and adult stem cells. There is a need to
organize guidelines in order to conduct safe stem cell
research and in an ethical manner in India.

What are the current trends do you see in this
space in India and other parts of the world?
Surprisingly very well. India has been always been a
follower specially when it comes to medical research.
There has hardly been any major medical innovation
that has come out of India but things seem to be
changing this time. It looks like there will be a good
case study where India might just take the lead in
stem cell technology and be a world leader in it. We
have all the required resources and brain power to
make it happen, all we need is supportive legislature,
progressive regulators, understanding investors and
gritty innovators and you will see things rolling.

The Government of India has started promoting
Stem Cell Research with the help of its agencies.
The focus is on identifying diseases and conditions
that can be cured. Programs to support embryonic
and adult stem cell research are in place. Some
of the developments include setting up human

28 SPEAKING WITH

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embryonic stem cell lines, using limbal stem cells way confining the research objectives. Aside from
to repair corneal surface disorder; classification of cost/enormous speculations, other challenges are
haematopoitic, mesenchymal and liver stem cells; as administrative difficulties with changing rules across
well as segregation of stem cells into neural, cardiac nations, on account of contrasts in the suppositions
and cell lineages, etc. For rest of the world, there are and social perspectives. Setting up a solitary/regular
many researchers who are creating path breaking arrangement or rule worldwide to administer stem
records. Scientists from the University of California, cell research could be helpful. Human embryos for
for instance, have created an approach via stem cells research, somatic cell nuclear move, IPSCs have raised
to deal with cancerous tissue while anticipating some concerns due to their long hatching periods.
dangerous reactions of chemotherapy by treating the
disease in a progressive manner. What is the size of the stem cell treatment
market in India? Who are the leading players in
What steps need to be taken to boost the growth this market?
of this market in the country and in APAC region? There is no real credible competition for us. The big
As of now, the Asia Pacific region is beginning to players in the market are primarily into cord blood
endorse stem cell treatments. However, around the banking and for them therapy is a side product on which
globe the organizations have shown concern about the they don’t concentrate. There are few very small doctors
challenges faced while bringing new techniques to the who practice regenerative medicine on their own but
market. Even in a country where medical revolutions could never match up with the product catalogue or
have had the best growing environment, companies research backing that we have. A few large therapy
have ended their preliminary human embryonic cell focused companies are trying to make off the shelf, fit
research referring to research costs and administrative for all, type of product which is very different from our
complexities. The Regenerative Medicine protocol that is all about personalized medicine.
administrative environment needs to be tackled in
the Asia Pacific region on account of variable degrees Besides India where do you see growth of stem
of logical accomplishment, specialized advancement, cell treatments in Asia pacific region? Why do
and administrative framework and other concerns you feel so?
(such as market access, polices, and systems). Scientists across nation have been working on
transplantations and curing deadly diseases. The
What are the challenges before the company United States is one of the leading countries, followed
and industry in the country? by European and Asian nations. These nations and
Lack of investment is the biggest challenge. Most new several others have not only expanded the scope of
investments in healthcare sector still comes from stem cell research with their experiments but also have
Trusts, and charities who enter the segment for charity created more avenue for scientific breakthroughs and
and no profit no loss mind set. This restrains their medical applications of regenerative medicine. South
capacity to invest in research and new technologies Africa launched its first stem cell bank in 2004 while
and hence it is not easy to get cutting edge technologies China began creating human embryos for research and
in the country. India with its huge population base can therapeutic experiments. India, on the other hand, has
be a perfect place for strong medical research but the set up itself as an emerging stem cell banking set up
lack of awareness and investment are major factors store patient’s stem cells for medical advancements.
in not a lot of medical inventions happening in the
country. It is not easy for healthcare research to raise Are you looking raising investment to expand
private money as the private investors are wearied your business in and outside India?
about the long gestation period for their investment. Advancells is a profitable company and generating
good amount of revenue. Hence, we aren’t looking
The other major challenge is the acceptance of to raise funds as of now. However, we are focusing
doctors of a new branch of medicine. It is very difficult more on tie ups and Joint Venture’s etc. We aim to
to convince doctors of a new way to treat patients and become a global leader in offering every patient with
understandably they want long term follow-up data. highly customized and progressive solutions to save
This data will take time to come and hence growth their lives. The goal is to turn Advancells into a one-
cannot be as fast as you expect it to be. Government stop regenerative medicine treatment centre in India
regulations are another challenge as beaurocracy is and abroad.
always a little slow to react to innovation.
Narayan Kulkarni
The expense of research and clinical preliminaries [email protected]
is high in case of regenerative medicine, in this

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Winners of the SLINGSHOT- top 30 startups

SFF X SWITCH 2019

Medtech startup
Eko.ai clinches top prize

The popular 3rd edition of the international Engineering, and Digital Economy Services’. SWITCH
startup competition Singapore FinTech Festival featured exhibitions, conferences, workshops, Lab
(SFF) and Singapore Week of Innovation crawls, and partner activities such as startups pitching
& TeCHnology (SWITCH) was held in Singapore competition, SLINGSHOT 2019- powered by Startup
Expo from November 11 to 15, 2019. The SFF was SG, and TechInnovation- an open innovation platform.
organized by the Monetary Authority of Singapore The forum convened international entrepreneurs,
(MAS), in partnership with ‘The Association of Banks innovators, investors, accelerators, and industry
in Singapore’, and in collaboration with ‘SingEx professionals to catalyze cross-industry exchange and
Holdings’. SWITCH was organized by Enterprise learning in technology adoption, application of R&D,
Singapore, National Research Foundation (NRF), and and commercialization of new solutions.
Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI).
SFFxSWITCH celebrated the winning solutions of
The Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) is the the Global FinTech Hackcelerator, FinTech Awards
world’s largest FinTech festival and a global platform and SLINGSHOT 2019 followed by a vibrant demo
for the FinTech community to connect, collaborate, and pitching sessions where FinTech and tech startups
and co-create with one another. The festival attracted presented their solutions to industry panels of judges.
more than 60,000 participants from 140 countries. Three winners emerged from the Global FinTech
The event also witnessed a record 569 global speakers, Hackcelerator, while there were 12 winners each from
close to 1,000 exhibitors (56 per cent foreign and 44 the FinTech Awards and SLINGSHOT 2019 Awards.
per cent local) and 41 international pavilions. SFF
provided the platform to convene industry leaders, tech The Top 100 Global Startups were invited to
innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and facilitated Singapore to meet with top-tier investors, corporates,
cross sector collaboration in deep healthcare sectors. and senior entrepreneurs. They then pitched their
Over 50 speakers discussed how they are paving the ideas live at the SLINGSHOT 2019 finale in presence
way for a more sustainable future in the world of of the biggest players in the startup world. Enterprise
finance and more. Singapore announced the 12 winners that were
selected from over 100 venture firms and corporates.
The Singapore Week of Innovation & TeCHnology
(SWITCH) is a global platform where deep-tech The two predominant themes at SWITCH were
ecosystems were connected, focusing on four key based on “Health & Biomedical science” with a major
industries –‘Health & Biomedical Sciences, Urban focus on biotech, diagnostics, healthcare services,
Solutions & Sustainability, Advanced Manufacturing & HealthTech, MedTech and the other based on “Urban
solution and sustainability” with a major focus on

30 EVENT REPORT

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Agritech and FoodTech industries. Slingshot pitch in action
The notable bio and healthcare exhibitors at
ecosystem, in addition to pitch coaching, mentorship,
the forum were; National Healthcare Innovation and legal clinics.
Centre; Singapore Health Technologies Consortium;
Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology; Allied Peter Ong, Chairman, Enterprise Singapore said,
World Healthcare (Slingshot Startup); Himuka AM “SLINGSHOT, with its new focus on deal-making,
Pharmacorp (Slingshot Startup); NU3X Asmara Pte gave participating startups more opportunities
Ltd (Slingshot Startup); and Bioscan Research Pte Ltd through the strong support and active participation of
(Slingshot Startup). global investors and venture builders who are the key
players in nurturing many of our innovative ideas and
Enterprise Singapore had put together an exciting companies.”
series of activities in the lead up to SLINGSHOT 2019
for startups to realize their potential. Gear Up was Top 100 startups who entered the grand finale
an exclusive three-day, action-packed workshop for at SFF x SWITCH got an opportunity to pitch their
the SLINGSHOT Top 100 Global Startups to make ideas to judges from 60 participating organizations
the most out of their SLINGSHOT experience. The comprising unicorns, tech giants and investors. Two
content is specially designed for startups to plug into out of six key tracks for participants at SLINGSHOT
the Singapore startup and innovation ecosystem, as 2019 were dedicated to “HealthTech, BioTech &
well as to strategically scale to the region. MedTech” and “FoodTech & AgriTech”. Among the 12
winners - The Life Science Startups - who triumphed
SLINGSHOT startups was matched with decision at the international startup competition are;
makers from leading corporates and investors in
the ecosystem for one-on-one conversations that Winners at HealthTech,
seed business opportunities by featuring new deal- BioTech & MedTech track
making components and personalized pitch coaching
sessions. Participants had the chance to engage with Eko.ai: A Singapore founded Medtech startup, Eko.
stakeholders in Singapore’s innovation community, ai clinched the top award, the Startup SG grand prize
who were also mentors, judges, and partners of the of S$250,000 Startup SG grant at SLINGSHOT 2019.
competition. Eko.ai is a machine learning based software for early
detection and treatment of heart disease and disability.
SLINGSHOT Top 100 Global Startups had access The AI based automated solution transforms a
to technology matching at SFF x SWITCH which complicated and expensive clinical procedure which
was a service for exhibitors seeking partnerships via currently consumes up to 30 minutes into a one-click,
R&D collaboration, technology commercialization or two minute single procedure.
licensing to connect with potential collaborators. The
Top 100 Global Startups exhibiting at SFF x SWITCH Breathonix: The company has developed a high
had submitted their technology offer write ups for precision breath sampler which is able to detect cancer
technology matching opportunities. biomarkers in a user’s breath. A Non-invasive breath

SLINGSHOT was powered by Startup SG and
organized by Enterprise Singapore, Asia’s highly
anticipated international startup pitching competition,
with a deeper focus on ‘deal making’. Startups were
encouraged for new opportunities to connect and
match with leading global investors and partners.
For the first time SLINGSHOT 2019 exclusively
offered more matching opportunities between judges
(investors and corporates) and participating startups.
The competition provides a platform for the best
startups to showcase themselves to global investors
and corporates in the region.

SLINGSHOT 2019 attracted over 2,400
applications from more than 120 countries, including
China, France, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel,
Portugal, Thailand, the US and United Kingdom. The
Top 100 Global Startups made it to the three-day semi-
finals and grand finals, and also went through a Gear
Up workshop to plug them into the Singapore startup

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tests for early detection of lung cancer and rapid Eko.ai, a MedTech startup receiving the SLINGSHOT 2019
diagnosis of heart attack. Grand Prize

Winners at FoodTech & AgriTech track Sophie’s Kitchen, has also set up its plant-based
seafood manufacturing operations here. Most recently,
Grower Agritech: An agritech company that they nabbed S$1 million in funding at The Liveability
cultivates truffles and cordycep mushroom (twenty Challenge 2019 presented by Temasek Foundation
times its size) indoors. With its mobile Smart Grow and organised by Eco-Business in Singapore. Today,
Station, these crops can be grown on-demand in any a pilot run to grow protein out of microalgae is
urban cities. underway, with the grand ambition to make Singapore
a protein-exporting powerhouse and an aspiration to
Nutrition Innovation: The company produces provide alternative space food options for astronauts.
Nucane Life, a range of healthier, naturally low
glycemic sugars designed for both refined sugar Eugene Wang, its founder and CEO said,
replacement and sugar reduction by up to 70 per cent. “SLINGSHOT opened up a new page in our company
history. With the connections established and the
Eleven other Sector Winners (two each, including money we got through this event, we were able to
the grand winner, from the six sectors) received start working on a lot of R&D projects which we were
S$50,000 Startup SG grants each. Senior Minister unable to do previously. These research projects
of State for Trade and Industry Dr Koh Poon Koon eventually led us to the grand price at The Liveability
honored the top prizes on November 13, 2019 at Challenge 2019. Our business has since transformed
Fintech Festival. into an advanced food tech company that is in the most
exciting space. All these were made possible thanks to
The winners were selected by a panel of our participation in SLINGSHOT back in 2017.”
international judges comprising global venture firm’s
leaders. In addition, all Top 100 Global Startups were SFF x SWITCH concluded the FinTech week
given S$13,600 ($10,000) worth of Cloud Credits with the Innovation Lab Crawl and Industry Events
by Digital Ocean. This comprehensive prize package (November 14-15), which witnessed over 20,000
will give the startups a head start in establishing an visitors across over 50 innovation labs and more than
office in Singapore, which in turn will contribute to 30 workshops and networking events held around
the vibrancy of the startup ecosystem in the region. Singapore.
International startups will also receive Entrepass, a
work visa for entrepreneurs. Looking forward to continued collaboration with
the industry and for a more impactful event, SFF
Past year winners have seen good progress in x SWITCH will return next year from November
the development of their solutions as well as in their 9 to 13, 2020. It will build on the energy, ideas
fundraising efforts. Alchemy Foodtech, a startup and partnerships established this year, to further
tackling the war against diabetes, has gone on to raise strengthen the ecosystem for FinTech and deep tech
S$2.5 million after winning SLINGSHOT in 2018. in Singapore and the region.
Armed with technology to lower glucose release in
food, it opened a FoodTech laboratory, [email protected] Hithaishi C Bhaskar
Alchemy, with the goal of transforming Singapore’s [email protected]
food industry through innovation. It has already
signed more than 20 pilot partnerships with food
manufacturers and companies in the region to come
up with healthier food options to combat diabetes and
other diseases.

Alan Phua, its co-founder and Chief Executive
Officer, said, “Winning Slingshot helped boost our
credibility immensely and made it easier for us to reach
out to B2B customers and attract media coverage. We
were very fortunate to also have potential customers
reach out to us on their own after the competition. The
post competition support, both business development
and financial, from Enterprise Singapore was also
unbelievable. All this boosted our business case and
made Alchemy an even more attractive investment
opportunity for Venture Capitals and strategics.”

The SLINGSHOT 2017 winner, California-based

32 ASIA PACIFIC MEDTECH 2019

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

ASIA PACIFIC MEDTECH FORUM 2019

Finding sparking Medtech
Innovators across APAC

The 5th edition of Asia Pacific MedTech, the Talking about the event Harjit
biggest MedTech forum in the region, with over Gill, CEO, APACMed said,
1092 delegates attending from 31 countries, “This showcase imagines those
with 54 sponsors and exhibitors was held in Singapore possibilities on a 2025 horizon
as HealthTech start-ups and
in October, under the theme “Connecting Leaders, MedTech incumbents visualize
this convergence of health
Connecting Care” to explore advancements in technology, mobile devices and social
media. As patients’ transition from emergency rooms
medical technologies, innovations in digital and data and the operating theatre into intensive care units,
these innovators will present tech enable integrated
management, which are impacting healthcare delivery care delivery that allows for remote monitoring, virtual
consultations, diagnosis and treatment as future steps
in the region, and to understand what this means for towards personalized medicine.”

patients and healthcare providers. The 2019 Asia Pacific MedTech Forum featured a
Connected Care Showcase, taking delegates through
Based in Los Angeles, MedTech Innovator, a the patient journey from the operating room to the
hospital ward to the connected home. Over the two
premier nonprofit startup accelerator in the medical days conference, attendees, participants, global
speakers and panellists explored the potential of
technology industry, together with the senior Connected Care in solving the region’s vast healthcare
needs by addressing themes like; Transformative
leadership teams of its corporate partners and judges, impact of medical device connectivity; Demystifying
connected health regulations; Cyber security in an
MedTech associates travelled to Japan, Australia, increasingly connected healthcare system; MedTech
4.0- Improving health outcomes with IoT, Big Data
Singapore and China to meet more than 35 aspirants in and AI; Scaling Innovations to transform care.
The themes emphasized on the need to improve
person. The program selected high-performing start- digital connectivity between healthcare providers
and patients with a patient centric connected care
ups across Asia Pacific giving an introductory exposure approach, allowing remote communication, diagnosis,
treatment and monitoring.
to industry leaders, awarding over $300,000 in cash
The ‘APACMed Connected Care Innovation’
prizes and a $50,000 SGD grant from Enterprise showcase also highlighted predictive analytics promises
to accelerate clinician decision making in the operating
Singapore. In addition, program’s corporate sponsors theatre, while at the same time empowering patients to
manage their personal health data in order to minimise
awarded multiple incubator spaces. the need for repetitive hospitalized treatments. In
addition, local MedTech Innovators also partnered
Speaking with BioSpectrum with academia and research institutes to address the
role of AI in an emergency department care setting.
Asia Paul Grand, CEO,
Winning innovators
MedTech Innovator
The MedTech industry’s leading global accelerator and
said, “Our goal at MedTech venture competition featured 28 leading start-ups out

Innovator is to unearth the

most promising start-ups

around the globe and connect

them with the stakeholders who

can ensure that their transformative technologies

reach patients and improve lives. After seven years

and seeing over 3,000 innovative companies, I can

truly say that the start-ups selected for our inaugural

year in Asia Pacific exceeded all expectations. The

Asia Pacific MedTech Forum was the perfect venue

to feature the 20 world-class start-ups selected for

our 2019 program to an audience of over 1,000 Asia

Pacific healthcare leaders.”

The event was held in association with the Asia

Pacific Medical Technology Association (APACMed)

and its partners. Founded in 2014, the association

is the only regional association to provide a unified

voice for the medical technology industry in Asia

Pacific.

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Grand Prize winners of APAC MedTech 2019 posing with guests and judges

of which 20 innovator companies featured their start-up support of their exclusive healing device.
idea towards connected care. By subjecting themselves The judging panel included heads and international
to a vigorous screening session 4 innovators arose out of
20 presenters to compete at the finale. The four finalists business leads, developers and management experts
who are developing transformative medical technology across the medical industry and healthcare sectors.
innovations in the areas of precision medicine, surgical Speaking to BioSpectrum Asia,
advancements, and critical care are; Peter Hawkes, head of New
Business Development,
 NDR Medical, based in Singapore, has developed Medical Devices Asia
a robotic system that uses artificial intelligence Pacific, Johnson &
and image processing to automate the targeting of Johnson said, “It’s an exciting
lesions and expedite the diagnosis of critical illnesses. time to be part of MedTech
Integration of AI and precision robotics ensures safe Innovation in Asia Pacific. As we
and fast percutaneous access for biopsy and ablation. saw this week there are a number
of start-ups and young companies with cutting edge
 Inochi Care, based in New Delhi, India, has technology seeking to solve unmet needs specifically
developed a multi-therapeutic wound healing device for this high growth region. Johnson and Johnson
designed to overcome the challenges of complex wounds, is proud to support the MedTech Innovator in Asia
such as diabetic foot ulcers, pressure sores and infections. Pacific”.
The device has 3 times faster chronic wound healing
capacity at 1/5th the cost, which in turn can increase the The eko.ai, a Singapore based Echocardiography
accessibility of treatment and prevents lifelong disability. venture is a providers of AI-based automation and
disease prediction tools to fight against cardiovascular
 Nesa Medtech, based in Bengaluru, India, has diseases has earned Start-up SG award and JLABS award
developed a medical device to treat symptomatic with SG$50,000 cash prize and an invitation to join
uterine fibroids with an affordable, scar less and the qualifying round at the SLINGSHOT competition
outpatient procedure. in Singapore supported by Enterprise Singapore.
The company also received an award for one-year of
 Crely Healthcare, based in Singapore, has residency at Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS at Shanghai,
developed a wearable digital health device to detect a state-of-the-art facility that can accommodate
and prevent surgical site infections in patients who more than 50 start-ups across the pharmaceuticals,
have undergone surgery. medical device, consumer and health tech segments.
The innovation was also awarded one-year software
On the plenary stage, each of the four companies license from Siemens Industry Software. The victory
pitched in for a seven minutes descriptive session provided eco.ai another winning opportunity to pitch
with their innovative technology before a panel of four and triumph during Singapore Week of Innovation and
judges. After the presentations, the audience of more Technology (SWITCH) making it acquire the top Start-
than 750 delegates were encouraged to vote in real- up SG grand prize of S$250,000 at SLINGSHOT 2019.
time to select the winners.
BioSpectrum Asia spoke to winners to learn
NDR Medical emerged as a winner at 2019 Asia more about their venture and to be a part of their
Pacific Showcase Program to advance its business celebrations. In the coming pages we will be covering
goals and mission to improve future health outcomes interviews with these winners.
of patients in the region. The winner was awarded the
$150,000 non-dilutive grand prize, one-year software Hithaishi C Bhaskar
license from Siemens Industry Software and a one- [email protected]
year membership to APACMed. Inochi Care secured
the second-place and received a prize of $25,000 in

34 ASIA PACIFIC MEDTECH 2019

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“We started with making an impact
with ANT surgical robotics to optimise
procedures in medical industry”

« When you focus on the essentials, you would
realise typical or most mid-sized hospital would
Alan Goh, have certain imaging device to generate the image
Co-founder & which they considered to be sufficient to perform
CEO, NDR Medical the analysis. With that notion in mind, we focused
Technology, on a development of a device which could generate
Singapore as much information as possible from a single
image or scan using robots for a better closed-loop
Share your experience of winning APAC reference. While many other systems requires
MedTech innovator award. significant pre-operation preparation time, multi-
Nothing short of amazing, APAC Medtech modalities image fusion, open-loop control system,
Innovator is probably the 1st Medtech focus NDR robotic imaging is designed to overcome these
challenge available in the region. The platform was issues.
a great opportunity for it being Medtech focused
and witnessed by professionals in the industry who Brief about your research and clinical
knows the market, problem statement and clinical collaborations to thrive in ANT innovation
work well enough. Emerging as the grand winner system
provided great validation to the vision and hard The development wouldn’t be possible without
work my team has put in. The prize money aside, clinician’s involvement and inputs. We have been
the award is a recognition and has so far attracted fortunate to have work with Dr Tan Yung Khan
quite a number of potential industry partnership. (urologist) who is a strong believer of robotic
surgery. Dr Tan has since been involved in the
Can you share the impulse which inspired the company for more than 4 years. We will continue
innovation of Automated Needle Targeting to work with like-minded clinician to develop the
(ANT) surgical robotics? technology further and in other indications and
Along with my co-founder at NDR, I always clinical applications.
believed in robotics and automation to be the
future trend. I had initial exposure to surgical How would NDR like to assign the cash price
robotics almost 15 years ago during my studies days for further development of the technology?
at Nanyang Technological University. The robotics Main bulk of the prize fund raised will be used to
industry was almost non-existing during that commercialise the product and advanced clinical
period. Now with sufficient experience, technical adoptions. The technology development has
capabilities and given the opportunity to embark on reached a certain readiness where the focus of the
this journey is like fulfilling a long-time dream. We company is gradually shifting into monetising and
started with making an impact and build something generating revenue for further development.
that would significantly optimise the procedures in
the medical industry. What are the future visions of NDR team and
what is the further move?
Explain NDR medical technology’s principles Our aim has always been towards developing
in providing a faster, safer, accurate and the technology to apply in the mass market
systematic procedure for better surgical and making it affordable and accessible to even
goals. developing countries which have huge unmet
healthcare needs and a huge underserved market.
We expect and hope that in the future our device
will be in main stream performing its precision
operations.

ASIA PACIFIC MEDTECH 2019 35

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“VACOX stimulates natural physiological process
to reduce healing time & cost associated”

Share your experience of winning one of the «
APAC MedTech innovator awards
It was great to be one of the recipients of MedTech Shivani Gupta,
innovator award. It was a great learning experience Co-founder, Director,
and exposure to vast MedTech ecosystem. Also, inochi care, India
the financial gain will help us move towards our
commercialization gain. It was a great cohort of peers imposed on the healthcare system as well as patients
to learn and interact with. and their families.

What are the ideology behind the innovation of Brief on inochi’s clinical research activates
VACOX healing device? and collaborations to thrive at wound healing
Delayed healing of chronic wounds causes technology
complications like pain, septicaemia, infections, and We are working with the leading wound healing
amputations leading to lifelong disability. During expert from India. We also have collaborations in
the clinical Immersion throughout the healthcare Japan. Recently we also collaborated with one of the
system, we found that a lot of people were affected by research groups of USA working on wound healing to
the problem of non-healing wounds and the existing strengthen the clinical evidence of our technology.
solutions had one or other limitations. Further research
and validation outside India confirmed our ideology to What are the approaches to introduce VACOX in
build a comprehensive wound healing solution which global geographical areas, especially APAC?
can be accessible and affordable in all kind of healthcare We are first targeting the Indian market,
settings and can cater to wounds of different etiologies. simultaneously we are working on the regulatory
requirements of other geographical areas especially
Give slight insight into inochi team who APAC. We are collaborating with different groups in
contributed to this innovation. other regions and open to have strategic partnerships
We are a team of a biotechnologist, mechatronics to expand in other geographies.
engineer and a product designer in the core team. We
also have Clinicians on board. Along with us we have How do you like to take ahead the innovations at
advisors from Bio design program from India and wound healing technology?
Japan. The cash prize will be utilized to expand the team and
pace up the clinical and regulatory work to move one
Can you share VACOX feature in delivering step closer to our commercialization goal.
multi-therapeutic dressing and its significance?
This novel technology simultaneously targets What are the future visions of inochi Care and
biochemical and biophysical interactions to stimulate what would be your further move?
the natural physiological healing process to reduce The vision of inochi Care is to develop innovative
the healing time and cost associated. It overcomes medical technologies and make quality healthcare
the challenges of halted wound healing by exudates accessible to all. Our mission is to heal the non-healing
removal, reducing inflammation and, enhancing cell wounds with our current product. We have more
proliferation and controlling microbial growth. innovations in pipeline in wound healing domain
including prognosis and prevention. We would like our
How competitive is inochi care’s advanced technology to be available globally and avoid any losses
multi therapeutic wound healing technology in due to complications of non-healing wounds.
progressive surgical goals?
We want to make this technology accessible and
affordable in all kind of healthcare settings. The
treatment cost to heal the wounds is expected to be
one third of any other active advanced wound healing
technology. We aim to reduce the financial burden

36 ASIA PACIFIC MEDTECH 2019

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“We are planning FDA submission
for our clinical tool in early 2020”

and reduce the costs of clinical trials; as well as
hospital systems seeking productivity tools and better
outcomes for their patient populations.

« Can you share some of the key features of your
AI-based decision support tools?
James Hare, eko.ai transforms a 30 minute process performed
CEO and Co-founder, only by trained specialists into 60 seconds and one
eko.ai, Singapore click tool that can be used by a general practitioner.
Moreover, many types of heart disease are less
Share your experience on winning Startup SG familiar to doctors, or notoriously difficult to
award and JLABS award diagnose. Our hypothesis is that machine leaning can
It’s always an extremely important moment when help, generating data and analysis impossible to do
startup founders receive external validation that the manually. eko.ai is currently developing solutions to
mission they are so obsessed with, and have sacrificed provide doctors with their personal AI assistant to
so much for, resonates with others was well. So, to evaluate such challenging conditions.
win two awards on the same day, both of which were
entirely unexpected, was a tremendous boost for our How significant and competitive your advanced
team. Even better, however, was to share the stage machine learning-based solutions at the
with another Singaporean startup winner, even though present trend?
competition came from across Asia. It was a true Currently, competitive efforts tend to focus on
testament to the innovative startup ecosystem here. just one measurement or one niche productivity
feature. This is because the challenge is difficult and
Give slight insight into your team and efforts the natural tendency is to focus on smaller, lower
towards this innovation hanging fruit. Our strategy is that in order to gain
We’ve built a multi-disciplinary team that includes real market acceptance, it’s important to offer a
world class cardiologists, founders who’ve taken complete solution that automates the analysis of a
startups from zero to IPO, and significant machine full patient exam. The hurdle to achieve this goal is
learning incubation/assistance from several of significantly higher, but creates a much larger market
Singapore’s top research institutes. opportunity.

How does your innovation assists in Are there any approaches to introduce your AI
cardiovascular disease prediction and automation tool at the global market platform,
protection? especially APAC?
Heart disease is the world’s number one killer from Yes. We are already in commercial negotiations
which nearly 1 in 3 people will die. Echocardiography with European based pharmaceutical companies for
is the first line of defence in this fight since it’s the our research tools which are available now. We are
safest, cheapest and most mobile imaging modality planning an FDA submission for our clinical tool in
available. But interpreting echos is still slow, error early 2020.
prone, expensive and requires extensive expertise.
Moreover, many cardiovascular diseases are difficult What are your visions for the further
to spot even by trained professionals, and lack good development of the technology?
diagnostic tools to evaluate and predict patient The cash prize is very timely in that it will help
outcomes. fund trials we’re rolling out now with leading
cardiovascular research labs. We strongly believe
eko.ai uses machine learning to automate the fight that working closely with the industry’s thought
against heart disease. Our automation software helps leaders, and publications that result from such
pharmaceutical companies seeking to improve results efforts, will be key to creating market validation for
our technology.

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Zhang Meng, VP, Tencent Medical addressing the audience at the Tencent Medical Enlightenment (ME) Summit in Beijing

Decoding healthcare in China
“Tech for good” is the vision and mission of
Tencent, which believes that progressive diseases are reducing in US, it is rising in China,”
technology can help humans unlock the said Dr Xiao Ruiping, Dean, Institute of Molecular
mysteries of life. Medicine in Beijing University, and Deputy Editor of
NEJM, in her presentation.
“Our vision and mission guide us to make
good use of technology and let the ever-changing She narrated how the team led by her has found
technological innovations better benefit humanity,” the factor that encourages type 2 diabetes and CV
said Zhang Meng, VP, Tencent Medical. “We can complications. The team has developed an antibody
provide an open platform and with the wisdom of which can reduce the concentration of that factor in
experts and the power of Internet technology, we can the blood. Dr Ruiping dealt with the topic of clinical
jointly build a bridge of trust between physicians and research. “It has improved significantly in China in
the public,” Zhang, told the press from Asia on the recent years.
eve of the 2019 Tencent Medical Enlightenment (ME)
summit in Beijing. Later, in the summit he also made “We aim to introduce the most advanced
a keynote presentation on ‘The new medical science international medical research and clinical practice
lighthouse’. to China. No of clinical studies in China has
increased due to government support and 4 per cent
Themed ‘Decoding life’ the first ME summit of the studies now are conducted in China. This is
organised jointly with New England Medical important not only for the use of medical experts, but
Journal (NEJM) Medical Frontier, the world’s also for the benefit of general public who can access
leading medical journal, at the Beijing exhibition the information through reliable science platform,”
centre attracted over 2000 people. Influential she added.
medical scientists and healthcare experts presented
their latest advancements in cutting-edge medical The point of reliability of information was
technologies for major diseases. also dealt with by Meng when told the press that
medical science should be based on rigour and
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), stroke and other precision as the first principle. “Tencent has joined
chronic diseases are the major health threat in China. hands with WebMD to obtain exclusive Chinese
Particularly, CVD prevalence and mortality rate is rights of over 60,000 pieces of medical content.
continuously growing. “Chronic diseases is a major That has been combined with doctors’ professional
cause of deaths in China accounting for 73 per cent knowledge and presented in text, animation,
of total mortality. When deaths caused by chronic video format, to make it easy to understand to the
patients,” added Meng.

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BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

“Tencent Zhang Meng, vice president, Tencent
Medipedia Medical, leads digital healthcare
helps patients innovation incubation in Tencent. He has
by providing successfully led the team in Tencent
trustworthy Medical in developing a brand new public
information” medical encyclopedia product called
- Tencent Medipedia. He talked to the
- Zhang Meng, reporters from Asia on the eve of Tencent’s
Vice President, first Medical Enlightenment (ME) summit
Tencent Medical on November 4 in Beijing. Edited excerpts;

What exactly Tencent Medipedia does?
Tencent Medipedia aims to provide a platform
for the Chinese users to get reliable medical
information to help get answers to their
questions. This will enable to bridge the
knowledge gap and help understand more
medical information and carry out more
effective and meaningful conversation with the
medical practitioners. This is being done since
there is lack of enough resources to respond
to patients’ questions. People go online to
search the information. However, the source
of the information available is unknown and
its accuracy is doubtful. That is where Tencent
Medipedia helps the patients as it provides
trustworthy information.

What kind of technology is used for
Tencent Medipedia?
We had to start from a scratch. In cases of

Tibor Kovacs, President, European Society of Infectious Diseases, Beijing Medical College
Oncology, presented an interesting relationship Hospital, presented the case of AIDS. He is involved
between the research in the medical field in a country in developing a new plant medicine to treat AIDS,
and the health of the population. “More the academic the clinical trials for which will begin next year.
publications, lower the mortality rate in cancer,” he “The current anti-viral treatment has controlled the
pointed out and informed the audience that only disease spread in China with decrease in the number
10 per cent of the China’s 400 research papers in of new patients by 16 per cent and in death by 33 per
Oncology journal were published. cent from 1020 till today,” informed Dr Taisheng in
his presentation. The mortality rate is to be reduced
Envisioning the future, he said engineers will drastically by over 85 per cent in next decade, he said,
have to be part of surgical teams in near future as making AIDS only a chronic disease.
lot of technology will be involved in healthcare.
There will be more use of Artificial Intelligence Be it AIDS or liver cancer or any other disease,
(AI), minimally invasive surgeries will be done early and specific diagnosis is the key for cure of
using robots, there will be digital medicines, virtual diseases was a common point made by the experts.
clinics, lot of data analyses will be required to be “Liver cancer is not an incurable disease. Early
done and doctors will have to get adopted to these screening and diagnosis is crucial in cure,” pointed
developments. out Dr Zhu Xiuxuan, Director, Liver Research Centre,
Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr Li Taisheng, Director, Department of

EVENT REPORT 39

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

medical information there is nothing available information needs to be provided in simple
to make that happen. So, we had to go to language that is understandable by common
basic foundation. Artificial Intelligence (AI) people. The work is very labour intensive and
technology, big data analytics, cloud to give it has to be done in a very structured way. It
the tools and platform to work with doctors or requires systematic approach of understanding
patients. We are focused on individual capability patients’ journey from pre-treatment to post-
improvement and improvising the digital treatment. The third point we had in mind
technology prospective. is to keep it smart to provide tailor-made
information as per the needs. It only gives
How you ensure authenticity of the efficient information and not piles up the sea
information? of information. So, there is lot of AI enabled
We have built from scratch since the main technology involved to understand graphs, most
foundation is very important. We ensure frequent questions, pain point for the patients.
that every word we put out is accurate and is We also need to understand what the doctors
aligned with the latest information available. have to say to the patients. So, it will tailor to
We have very strong internal medial editor your profile so that you will visit it again.
team consisting of almost 30 medical editors
who are mostly doctors or PhD in Life Sciences How to use the app? If suppose there is a
to make sure that the content comply with the cancer patient how the patient will use it?
government regulations and medical norms. We You can go to Tencent Medipedia and search.
make sure that we perform internal audits four There is a search box on the top in which we
times and chief editor signs it before it goes out, can put the name of any type of cancer so that
to ensure accuracy. We have some AI tools to it will pop up relevant articles. This is one of a
help audit some of the contents as well, however very unique kind of product across the globe.
it is still in progress. AI help to breakdown the From pre-treatment to post-treatment it gives
complex micro language terms to simple terms the most relevant information. You can browse
for the regular users to understand. We licensed videos and multimedia and can also read the
the content from Web MD whose product has most frequently asked questions from our
been around for more than 10 years, so they patients. Just as an example, for lung cancer
are validated and have a good reputation for alone we created more than 600 articles on
providing accurate information, so we have information on symptoms, the kind of treatment
exclusively licensed their content into China. that is available as well as what are the Chinese
guidelines for treatment.
Another important issue is that the

He warned that the world’s half of the liver Health Center, said “Decrease in suicide rate is
cancer patients are in China. But he showed hope by attributed to economic development of the people
describing various kind of treatments available in and growing urbanisation.” He suggested to maintain
China for liver cancer. Precision medicine and target suicide attempt register to do counselling of those
therapy have shown improved results increasing the whose suicide attempts fail to prevent them from re-
survival rate. attempts of suicide.

The summit also included the presentation on The summit can be summerised in the words of
mental illness as Dr Michael Phillips, Consultant, renowned Italian oncologist Umerto Veronasi, quoted
World Health Orgnisation’s Mental Health by Dr Kovacs in his presentation as “The surgeon
Department. Talked about complexities in suicide should not only act as a technician but as a real
rates measured in urban rural areas or gender wise scientist, being able to understand the results of basic
or age groupwise. Almost 70 per cent suicides are and clinical research beyond the surgical domain” for
attempted consuming pesticides, Dr Phillips said the scientific advances in medical science to continue
adding that interesting part is that one third of those to resolve more mysteries.
who commit suicides were not suffering from any
mental illness. (BioSpectrum Chief Editor Milind Kokje was
invited by Tencent to participate in the 2019
Fei Lipeng, Director of the Suicide Crisis Tencent Medical Enlightenment (ME) summit
Intervention Research Office, Shanghai Mental
on November 4 in Beijing)

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BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

GLOBAL BIO-INDIA SUMMIT, 2019

India has potential to emerge world leader
in Biotechnology: Dr Harsh Vardhan

The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science & Grid Access to Electricity and Sustainable Biofuels.
Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan addressing He said “we are a “Changed India” today, and as
at the inauguration of the Global Bio-India Summit-2019, in Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has aimed, we will
New Delhi on November 21, 2019. make a “New India” by 2022 and finally we aim to be
the world leader, “Vishwa Guru”.
“India has the potential to emerge as
the world’s top industry destination in Dr Harsh Vardhan said that biotechnology
biotechnology sector. India has the expertise serves mankind helping in to move towards a
and the biotechnology sector has witnessed biotechnology-led economy, transforming as
exponential growth in recent decades. Government many lives as possible, creating opportunities and
has encouraged the sector by setting up hundreds promising development for all. He encouraged young
of Biotechnology Parks and Incubators while innovators and entrepreneurs in the biotech sector
thousands of Start-ups have been supported by to come forward for the development of the country.
the Government,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union “Government of India will support and assist their
Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences ideas to make it a reality. As per the vision of former
and Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the wave of
Information Technology 20 years ago is India Today
Addressing the Inaugural function of the 3-day and Biotechnology is the India tomorrow”, he said.
Global Bio-India (GBI) Summit, 2019 in New Delhi
on November 21 Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the Speaking on the occasion, the Minister for
Prime Minister of India has set a target of making Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel, Dharmendra
India the top country in Science & Technology by Pradhan said “the Government has set a target to
2030. As compared to 5 per cent growth in scientific achieve 20 per cent ethanol blending of automotive
publications worldwide, India has notched a growth fuels. When we took charge ethanol blending was less
of 14 per cent in this sphere. than 1 per cent , today it has increased to 6 per cent
and further we have targeted to achieve 20 per cent
“We have developed a number of vaccines and ethanol blending”, he said.
the rotavirus vaccine is now a part of the National
Immunization programme, besides our laboratories Pradhan said “We are committed to work towards
have also produced vaccines against dengue and greater decarbonisation and make India a gas based
malaria. We are No.3 in Nanotechnology and our economy. Bio-energy will play an important role in
Tsunami Early Warning System has been ranked No.1 this. Through innovations developed by our bio-
in the world”, he added. energy scientists we are now working on utilising
waste biomass by converting it into Biofuels. With
The minister further said that India plays a 600MT of biomass, which can be used as raw
pioneering role in the UN sponsored Mission material, India remains the only country with highest
Innovation (MI) programme and is the leading scope for growth of Biofuels.”
country in three MI challenges on Smart Grids, Off-
“In future ethanol will be produced from raw
materials like, excess food grains, to help transform
our ‘Annadatas’ to ‘Urjadatas.’With 600MT of
biomass, which can be used as raw material, India
remains the only country with highest scope for
growth of Biofuels”, said Pradhan.

He further said that the Petroleum & Natural Gas
Ministry has instituted a Rs 300 crore Start-Up Fund.
“I have advised my colleagues to have biofuels as a
key focus area and provide stimulus to the industry
by giving handholding support and offtake guarantee
to new & emerging entrepreneurs in the Biofuel
sector”, he said.

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India has simplified Patents regime
for Start-ups, MSMEs: Piyush Goyal

Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Railways and Minister of Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Railways and
Commerce & Industry, government of India addressing Minister of Commerce & Industry, government
the gathering after giving away Awards at the Global Bio- of India while addressing the gathering after
India Summit, 2019 on November 22 in New Delhi. giving away Awards at the Global Bio-India
Summit, 2019 on November 22.
“The Government has simplified
the Patents regime for Start-ups, Goyal said “biotechnology is a key
MSMEs among others to encourage sector to fulfil India’s aspirations. The
innovation. The Department of Industrial Prime Minister’s Vision of New India is
will extend all support to new and emerging intertwined to Department of Biotechnology’s
enterprises in Biotechnology sector,” said enterprising endeavours. The aspirations
of 1.3 billion Indians rests on our success to
adopt technology, - innovations that lead to
transformations.”

Goyal said “India was the first country in
the world to have a separate Department of
Bio-Technology. Outside the US, the largest
number of FDA approved drugs, 523 in
numbers, come from India. From the present
nearly Rs 3.5 lakh crore worth of Biotechnology
industry in India, the DBT aims to top Rs 7
lakh crore output by 2025 and analysts say this
could even touch Rs 11/12 lakh crore.”

Calling upon academia, industry and
government to come together, Goyal said
that sustainability will be the fulcrum for
innovation.

In his address, Member, NITI Aayog, Dr Vinod for this event were Confederation of Indian Industry
K. Paul said “the Government and the private sector (CII), Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises
are working in unison to make Primary Healthcare (ABLE) and Invest India.
success in the country. The aspirations of the people
of India have risen and from Primary Healthcare, The Summit provided an opportunity to
we are now extending our reach to Secondary and showcase the potential of India’s biotech sector
Tertiary Healthcare.” to the international community, identify, create
opportunities and deliberate on the key challenges
Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of in the areas of Bio-pharma, Bio-Agri, Bio-Industrial,
Biotechnology & Chairperson BIRAC, said “the 3-day Bio-Energy and Bio-Services and allied sectors.
Biotechnology Summit discussed roadmap to achieve
$100 billion bio-economy target. We have scaled $51 It has brought academia, innovators, researchers,
billion already and the sector is growing at 14.7 per start-ups, medium and large companies together
cent. So the $100 billion target seems very modest.” on the same platform. Over 3,000 delegates from
around 25 countries and over 15 states of India
Global Bio-India is one of the largest participated in the mega event. More than 200
biotechnology stakeholders conglomerate being exhibitors, 275 Start-Ups and more than 100 Bio-
held in India for the first time. The three-day event Technology Incubators participated in it.
was organized by the Department of Biotechnology
(DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, In her remarks at the Closing Ceremony, Dr Renu
Government of India along with its Public Sector Swarup, said, “Going by the tremendous success
Undertaking, Biotechnology Industry Research of the mega event, the Department plans to turn
Assistance Council (BIRAC). The associated partners the GBI into an annual event with support from all
stakeholders.

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BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

IDF CONGRESS 2019

Roche- Connecting dots for diabetes relief

At the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Visitors at the Roche stall at the International Diabetes
Congress 2019 held from December 2 – 6, Federation (IDF) Congress 2019 held from December 2 – 6,
2019 in Busan, Korea, Swiss multinational 2019 in Busan, Korea.
healthcare company Roche showcased few innovative
digital solutions to address and manage the growing addition, patch pumps are becoming an effective and
burden of diabetes globally. Roche Diabetes Care has comfortable alternative to conventional pumps, and
been pioneering innovative diabetes technologies and implantable glucose monitoring systems are emerging
services for more than 40 years. as a novel alternative in glucose monitoring.”

A recent application by Roche Diabetes Care, on Highlighting the critical importance of accuracy
display at the IDF 2019 exhibition, was ACCU-CHEK in blood glucose meters, Dr Rolf Hinzmann, Head
SugarView. It is currently undergoing a pre-launch of Global Medical & Scientific Affairs, Glucose
preview in India. Another product on display was Monitoring and Science, Roche Diabetes Care said,
the Accu Chek Solo micropump system that allows “Inaccurate blood glucose meters lead to missed
for convenience and personalisation in insulin pump hypoglycemia, induced hypoglycemia due to over-
therapy while contributing to a more targeted and blousing, higher glycemic variability and higher
effective diabetes management. The product was hemoglobin A1C. Accuracy can be evaluated according
officially launched in 2018 and is currently available to ISO15197:2013. Hence, healthcare and patients
in many countries but yet to be launched in India and should choose blood glucose meters that show good
China, that are most affected by diabetes. accuracy in repeated, independent performance
evaluations.”
RocheDiabetes Care platform was also exhibited at
the event. This platform offers a lot of convenience to The informative symposium session was followed
the healthcare providers on handling patient care with by a panel discussion where Roche Diabetes Care
less time sorting through endless data. It was launched focused on the importance of integrated personalized
in March 2019 and is yet to reach the Indian market. diabetes management. “Diabetes is a significant and
Currently, the platform in available in Philippines, growing burden for Asia Pacific with more than 250
Spain, Portugal, France and Brazil. Adding to the list million people with diabetes. Roche Diabetes Care
was Eversense Continuous Glucose Monitoring System has three main elements to operationalize digital
also on display that offers a long-term continuous diabetes clinic in the APAC region- 1. Through our
glucose monitor for diabetes management. own portfolio of integrated solutions, 2. Through new
business models for driving commercial innovation in
Currently in Korea, not many Roche products are the region, and 3. Through third party or local offerings
available in the market due to the regulatory constraints. to gain quick access to new capabilities”, explained
However, in 2020 MySugr app and RocheDiabetes Tommy Kim, General Manager, Roche Diabetes Care,
Care platform will be hitting the Korean healthcare Korea.
market. “There are stringent regulatory protocols that
take a lot of time to address before launching any new Dr Manbeena Chawla was at International
product in Korea. Roche is maintaining a modular Diabetes Federation (IDF) Congress 2019 held
approach and will be releasing a number of products in Busan, Korea from December 2 – 6, 2019 at
in the Korean market. The upcoming ones are the
MySugr app and RocheDiabetes Care platform that the invitation of Roche Diabetes Care.
will be available in Korea by 2020”, shared Tommy
Kim, General Manager, Roche Diabetes Care, Korea.

Apart from the exhibition, Roche Diabetes Care also
organized a symposium, as part of the satellite symposia
programme at IDF Congress 2019. Addressing
the audience on integrated personalized diabetes
management, Julia Mader, Associate Professor of
Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Diabetology,
Medical University of Graz, Austria, emphasized,
“Apps that address clinical and psychological burden
of diabetes can enhance self-management. In

R&D NEWS 43

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

India designs a Taiwan creates
standing wheelchair reagent for oral
cancer screening
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) in
collaboration with Tamil Nadu based Phoenix Medical A team at the Chang Gung Molecular
Systems has launched India’s first indigenously-designed Medicine Research Center in Taiwan
Standing Wheelchair. The standing wheel chair branded has developed a reagent that can be used
as Arise enables a differently-abled person requiring a to screen for oral cancer in 20 minutes
using saliva. According to the research
wheelchair to shift from sitting to standing team, the reagent can allow doctors to
position, and vice versa, independently overcome a bottleneck in the cancer
and in a controlled manner. The wheel screening process, and is not limited to
chair was designed and developed by use with a single specimen. The finding
the TTK Center for Rehabilitation was the result of an academic- industry
Research and Device Development at cooperation with an investment $10.5
IITM, headed by Sujatha Srinivasan million. The research team collaborated
in the Department of with the National Applied Research
Mechanical Engineering. Laboratories in Taiwan to turn the
The commercialisation of research into a finished product that can
the wheel chair technology was be used by hospitals.
made possible through support
from Wellcome, UK, through an
‘Affordable Healthcare in India’
Award, which brought together
the research and manufacturing
partners. Arise has been designed
such that the user can actuate it from
the sitting position to the standing
position and vice versa independently
and in a controlled manner. This
can be done using the power of
the user’s arms. Arise was found
to be stable even in outdoor use in
rural areas, on uneven terrain.

Australia finds new way to target childhood cancer

An Australian-led international research effort has survival of neuroblastoma cells, but also that ‘knocking
broken fresh ground in the race to find more effective down’ or inhibiting the expression of this molecule
treatments for the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, causes neuroblastoma cells to die, and tumours to stop
by uncovering a new and as-yet unexploited target in growing and regress in mice with the disease.
cancer cells that therapeutic drugs can be aimed at.
The new research, led by scientists at Australia based
Children’s Cancer Institute in collaboration with
scientists in the US, Europe and China, has identified
one such target molecule. By analysing hundreds of
tumour samples of children with neuroblastoma, the
researchers found that high levels of a long non-coding
RNA (called lncNB1) is a marker of poor prognosis; in
other words, children whose tumours have high levels
of lncNB1 tend to do worse than other children with
neuroblastoma. The scientists were not only able to
show that lncNB1 actively promotes the growth and

44 R&D NEWS

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

UK, China develop pancreatic cancer vaccine system

Researchers from Queen Mary Zhengzhou University and
University of London and the Guangzhou Institutes
Zhengzhou University, China of Biomedicine and Health,
have developed a personalised Chinese Academy of Sciences.
vaccine system that could The Sino-British Research
ultimately delay the onset of Centre is a joint venture
pancreatic cancer. The study established by Queen Mary
provides strong proof-of- and Zhengzhou University.
concept for the creation of a The teams will now look at
vaccine for cancer prevention different ways of improving
in individuals at high risk of the vaccine regime, including
developing this disease and to increasing the number of
slow down tumour growth in vaccinations or combining the
patients who are affected by it. vaccine with other therapies
The research was undertaken such as immunotherapies.
by scientists from the The research was funded
Barts Cancer Institute at by the Chinese Ministry of
Queen Mary, the Sino- Science and Technology and
British Research Centre at Zhengzhou University.

Japan discovers Singapore makes
marker for novel discovery in
Alzheimer’s diagnosis diabetes research

A research team led by Nagoya City University in Japan Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
has discovered a marker flotillin that allows Alzheimer’s (NTU Singapore) scientists have discovered that
disease diagnoses by examining just a drop of blood. a type of immune cell known as ‘pancreatic islet
According to the researchers, the marker also enables macrophages’ is capable of promoting insulin
the detection of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a production during the pre-diabetes phase. The
stage prior to Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers scientists believe that the macrophages could be
analyzed the blood of 15 people who were diagnosed harnessed through new targeted treatments to help
with Alzheimer’s disease through medical imaging prevent Type 2 pre-diabetic patients from turning
and 15 others who were not. They found the density of fully diabetic. Macrophages were not previously
flotillin in the blood of those who were diagnosed with known to produce or regulate insulin, and had
the disease was much lower than that of those who were often been overlooked in diabetes research. The
not. Similar phenomenon was observed in patients NTU team aims to conduct deeper research in
with MCI. macrophage subsets, to spur better targeted
drugs and treatments for pre-diabetic patients to
potentially reverse their ailment.

ACADEMICS NEWS 45

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

NUS launches course to India takes
train medical practitioners Ayurveda
legacy to
Duke-NUS Medical School’s Australia
PhD programme in Clinical
Sciences (PhD CS) addresses All India Institute of
an important need in the Ayurveda (AIIA) has
field, by being the first PhD signed a Memorandum of
programme in Singapore and Understanding (MoU) with
Southeast Asia to specifically Western Sydney University,
train medical practitioners Australia. The MoU will
and other health science promote the collaboration
professionals to lead clinical in research and developing
and translational research. guidelines for integrating
The programme aims to Ayurveda principles with
equip clinicians to lead multi- modern medicine. Professor
disciplinary translational and Barney Glover, Vice
patient-oriented research, in Chancellor, Western Sydney
partnership with scientists and University, Australia and
industry collaborators. The Prof Tanuja Nesari, Director,
inaugural cohort in 2018 saw five full-time candidates, while this year’s AIIA signed the MoU during
batch had seven full-time students. The students have diverse medical the visit of the delegation
specialisations and research interests, and the intake size is projected to led by Dan Tehan, Minister
triple within four years. Through this PhD programme, Duke-NUS aims to for education, Australian
create a pipeline of clinician-scientists to lead future biomedical research Government to India in
efforts and improve patient outcomes in Singapore and around the world. November 2019. The signing
ceremony took place at
India inks pact with the Indian Ministry of
China for pharma research AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga
& Naturopathy, Unani,
Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences trials as per the requirements of Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and
and Research University both the countries. This MoU will Homoeopathy). Both
(DPSRU), New Delhi, the first allow student exchange, faculty Institutions are committed
Pharmacy University of India, exchange and development of to take the collaboration
has signed a Memorandum of history of pharmacy museum in to the next higher level by
Understanding (MoU) with the the University. identifying specific areas for
world’s first Pharmacy University collaboration in education,
China Pharmaceutical University research and practices
(CPU), Nanjing, China. This of traditional medicine
MoU will enable free research while ensuring the quality
collaboration with CPU. It is also standards and also by
planned to have some unique encouraging investment in
postgraduate level programs traditional medicine related
in International Pharmacy infrastructure.
Economics & Trade, International
Drug Regulatory Affairs, Medical
Artificial Intelligence and Sports
Pharmacy, and Integrated
Ayurvedic & Chinese Traditional
Medicines for formulation
development as well as clinical

46 SUPPLIER NEWS

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Thermo Fisher opens Agilent expands
portfolio of smart
customer solution connected GC instruments

center in China Agilent Technologies Inc. has introduced a micro gas
chromatograph that is small, fast, smart, and easy to
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the world use. The new Agilent 990 Micro GC system is designed
leader in serving science, has announced the to monitor the safe distribution, calorific valuation, and
official opening of a Customer Solution Center odorant level in natural gas. Compact and rugged, it
in Shanghai, China. This follows the recent delivers laboratory-quality data whenever and wherever
announcements of a Biosciences Customer it is needed. The 990 Micro GC combines Agilent’s
Exploration Center in Shanghai and the proven microfabrication and smart-connected digital
expansion of the company’s clinical trials technologies in an all-new modular platform. The system’s
logistics facility in Suzhou. The new Pharma plug-and-play architecture and smart-connected user
and BioPharma Center will support the rapid assist functions make the 990 Micro GC easier to install,
delivery of novel and high-quality therapeutics use, and troubleshoot, reducing the cost of ownership and
by providing expertise in critical analytical improving productivity.
processes and specialized workflows.

Promega enters global collaboration with Merck

Promega Corporation for the Promega MSI CDx in the validated in labs around
has announced that it United States and China. Plans the world to characterize
has entered into a global to seek approvals in additional solid tumor MSI status.
collaboration with Merck, territories may follow. Promega MSI testing functionally
known as MSD outside the MSI technology has been measures the genomic
United States and Canada, accumulation of insertion
to develop Promega’s or deletion (INDEL) errors
microsatellite instability caused by a deficient
(MSI) technology as an on- mismatch-repair system
label, solid tumor companion (dMMR) that occurs in
diagnostic (CDx) for use with certain types of solid tumors,
Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, and this screening may be used
KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab). to better characterize tumors
The global collaboration will and guide therapeutic choices for
initially seek regulatory approval MSI-High cancer types.

SUPPLIER NEWS 47

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Qiagen, DiaSorin launch Beckman Coulter to
latent TB detection kit develop algorithm
for sepsis detection
QIAGEN and DiaSorin have announced the U.S.
launch of an automated workflow for QuantiFERON- Beckman Coulter, Inc., has initially been awarded
TB Plus (QFT-Plus), the fourth-generation modern a contract of $1.25 million, with potential to
gold standard for latent tuberculosis (TB) detection, be awarded an additional $6.5 million if all
on DiaSorin’s LIAISON platforms. The United States contract options are exercised, from the DRIVe
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the (Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures)
LIAISON QuantiFERON-TB Plus Test, developed by established by the Biomedical Advanced Research
QIAGEN and DiaSorin to offer streamlined laboratory and Development Authority (BARDA), under the
automation for latent TB screening, supporting the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness
conversion from tuberculin skin tests to modern blood- and Response (ASPR), within the United States
based QuantiFERON technology. The highly automated Department of Health and Human Services
workflow on LIAISON platforms provides QuantiFERON (HHS). The contract will enable Beckman
customers a powerful, highly flexible automation option Coulter, in collaboration with Dascena, Inc, to
for all throughput ranges. Embedding QuantiFERON develop and commercialize a novel machine-
assays in the broad assay menu of DiaSorin’s LIAISON learning-based sepsis detection algorithm. By
analyzers also gives current LIAISON customers an combining novel laboratory test parameter
attractive new assay option with significant growth values with electronic health record information,
potential. The workflow pairs QIAGEN’s standard the objective for this next-generation analytic
QuantiFERON-TB Gold Plus Blood Collection Tubes algorithm will be to accurately predict and
(QFT-Plus BCT, containing the core QuantiFERON detect sepsis earlier, with the goals of reducing
technology) with DiaSorin’s newly launched LIAISON sepsis mortality through earlier intervention and
QuantiFERON-TB Plus detection assay. reducing the total cost of care.

Shimadzu releases advanced RF system

Shimadzu Medical Systems USA, contributing to all motion weight capacity),
a subsidiary of Japan based lower cost of care. easily performs both bariatric
Shimadzu Corporation, has As the newest U.S. and routine daily fluoroscopic
released the FLUOROspeed X1 based product in
edition, patient side conventional the FLUOROspeed and radiographic exams. The
RF table system. The company series, the FLUOROspeed X1
has introduced a new FLUOROspeed edition received FDA
radiographic/fluoroscopic (RF) X1 edition 510(k) clearance
system called the FLUOROspeed with its 665 in August
X1 edition, a conventional lb. static 2019 and
RF table system offering high patient is now
image quality and a multitude of weight available
features that improve workflow capacity for sale
and operator efficiencies, thereby (500 lb. throughout
the US.

48 PEOPLE NEWS

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

Aruvant brings Novartis Rakuten Medical
Executive as CEO
appoints new
Swiss firm Aruvant Sciences, a clinical stage
biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and members on Board
commercializing transformative therapies for the treatment
of severe blood disorders, has announced the appointment Rakuten Medical, a privately funded
of Dr William Chou, M.D. as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). clinical-stage biotechnology company with
Dr Chou brings over 15 years of healthcare experience to offices in the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, Germany
and the Netherlands, has appointed two
Aruvant, having previously new directors to the company’s Board:
served in a variety of David Chao, co-founder and General
leadership roles at Novartis Partner of DCM Ventures; and Kentaro
across both development and Hyakuno, Chief Operating Officer (COO)
commercial functions. Most and Group Executive Vice President of
recently, Dr Chou served Rakuten, Inc. Chao is co-founder and
as Vice President, Global General Partner of DCM Ventures, a
Disease Lead for Novartis’ venture capital firm with more than $4
Cell and Gene Therapy billion under management. He is also
unit, where he oversaw Chairman of 51job, a trustee of The Thacher
the global commercial School and serves on the advisory board
launch of Kymriah, the first of Legend Capital. His VC investments
CAR-T cell therapy. Prior to that role, he led the Kymriah include Sling Media, SoFi, Musical.ly (Tik
lymphoma clinical development program to approvals in the Tok), Bill.com, 51job, and Lime. Hyakuno
US, Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan. Prior to joining is also a Senior Director of the Group
Novartis, Dr Chou worked at the Boston Consulting Group Company Division, which spans across
where he focused on commercial and clinical pharmaceutical corporate planning, human resources and
strategy. Dr Chou holds an MBA from the Yale School of corporate communications, and reporting
Management, an MD from the University of Pittsburgh directly to Rakuten Chairman and CEO,
School of Medicine, and an AB in politics and economics Mickey Mikitani. Hyakuno’s previous
from Princeton University. Dr Chou completed his residency responsibilities included leadership of
in internal medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital and his the company’s Group Strategy and Global
fellowship in geriatrics at Yale University. Business, focusing on e-commerce and
digital content.

MabPlex hires Dr Wu as COO for US biz

MabPlex International, Ltd., a leading, fully integrated, Contract
Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) serving the
global biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries with sites
in China and the United States, has announced the appointment of
Yongjian Wu, Ph.D. as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of MabPlex
USA. Dr Wu has more than 18 years of global biopharmaceutical
experience. Before joining MabPlex, Dr Wu worked at
Bayer, BioMarin, Genentech and Tanvex, with both internal
manufacturing and quality organizations for the production
of preclinical/clinical and commercial-ready materials, as
well as with external Contract Research Organization (CRO)
for preclinical, bioanalytical and clinical development of
pipeline projects. He has advanced numerous new drug
development projects from early research/preclinical
stage to IND and Biologics License Applications (BLA),
authoring regulatory filings and interacting with agencies
during face to face meetings and inspections.

PEOPLE NEWS 49

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

TAKE Solutions ropes in
Swiss based pharma veteran

TAKE Solutions, a globally recognized domain intensive services

provider in Life Sciences, has announced the appointment of Srini

Srinivasan as an Independent

Director in TAKE Solutions Board

of Directors. Srinivasan has over

three decades of experience at

Pfizer, Novartis, GSK and Astra in Masanori
Matsubara
global leadership roles in General takes charge of
Omron India biz
Management, Commercial, R&D
Japan based Omron Healthcare,
and Manufacturing. He has led global leader in the field of
clinically proven, innovative
global cross-functional teams medical equipment for home
health monitoring and therapy,
and launched brands in both has announced the elevation of
Masanori Matsubara as the new
Specialty and Primary Care across Managing Director (MD) of its India
operations. Matsubara succeeds
numerous therapeutic areas - Kazunori Tokura who headed the
operations of the company for
Respiratory, Cardiovascular, around two years (from March 2017
to Nov 2019). Matsubara has been
Metabolism, Neuroscience, associated with Omron Healthcare
for more than 10 years and has led
Infectious Diseases, Oncology significant functions of the business
across India and Japan. He has
and Immunology. He is an an astute understanding of key
strategic aspects such as domestic
advisor to American Society of sales management, new business
development and corporate planning.
Clinical Oncology’s Cancer LinQ. An expert in Health & Physical
Education, Matsubara has played
He lived and worked in Europe, a substantial role in strengthening
Omron’s expanse in India by taking
USA, Asia Pacific and India. He holds a degree from Madras care of corporate planning function
since last two years. The stint has
Medical College, an MBA from London Business School and given him relevant insights into the
Indian business environment. He has
received executive training at Harvard Business School. also made a notable contribution in
leading the sales & operation teams
Ashok Venkitaraman to towards realizing many important
head cancer research at NUS milestones in business development.
These are some of major reasons
The National University of Singapore (NUS) has announced that
renowned cancer researcher Professor Ashok Venkitaraman from for choosing him for a greater
the University of Cambridge will lead one of its premier Research responsibility.
Centres of Excellence, the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore
(CSI Singapore). Prof Venkitaraman will
become a Distinguished Professor in the
Department of Medicine at the NUS Yong
Loo Lin School of Medicine, a member
of the National University Health
System (NUHS). He will also take
up appointments as Senior Principal
Investigator and Senior Adviser at the
Agency for Science, Technology and
Research (A*STAR). Prof Venkitaraman
will begin his appointments after a period of
transition from his current responsibilities
as the Ursula Zoellner Professor of Cancer
Research and Director of the Medical
Research Council Cancer Unit at the
University of Cambridge.

50 EVENT REPORT

BIOSPECTRUM | DECEMBER 2019 | www.biospectrumasia.com

SNOMED CT 2019

“Malaysia creates comprehensive MyHDW
to aid doctors in making clinical decisions”
SNOMED International, a not-for-profit
international organization that manages the
terminology standards worldwide - SNOMED
CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine—Clinical

Terms) that meets the diverse needs and expectations

of clinicians worldwide has organised SNOMED CT

Expo 2019, in association with the Ministry of Health

Malaysia on the theme “Leading Health Innovation

through Data” in Kuala Lumpur from October 27 to

November 1, 2019.

The expo saw participation of more than 300 Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Health Minister, Government of Malaysia at
local and international delegates ranging from the centre is sitting with other dignitaries and participants at the
industry leaders, health informaticians, healthcare SNOMED CT Expo 2019 organised by SNOMED International
practitioners, data scientists, statisticians, students, in Kuala Lumpur from October 27 to November 1, 2019.

computer scientists and students, all in pursuit of

expanding their understanding of medical ontology is given utmost consideration. The granular data

when it comes to terminology standards. collected from healthcare facilities undergo Privacy

Inaugurating the expo Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Health Assurance Service to ensure that the information

Minister, Government of Malaysia said that the Health generated is free from Patient Identifiable Information.

Ministry has created a comprehensive healthcare data The development of MyHDW also complies with

bank structured for query and analysis purpose under provisions in local laws governing personal data

the Malaysia Health Data Warehouse (MyHDW), protection.”

to aid doctors in making clinical decisions. He also MyHDW analyses and visualises these information

said the MyHarmony function under MyHDW would through Fixed Format Reports, Ad-Hoc Query

be used to roll out the reference set for oral health, with Analytical charts, a Dashboard which features

pharmacy and pathology early next year. Key Performance Indicators (KPI), Geographic

The SNOMED CT in MyHarmony function information System (GIS), Artificial Intelligence-

allows for automated data interpretations that based codification of unstructured data using

cover a wide range of specialities and requirements MyHarmony, and Statistical and Predictive Analytics.

besides the ability to use preferred terms that suit The combinations of these functions allow millions of

local preferences. MyHarmony was initially tasked data to be transformed into useful information at the

to generate cardiology Key Performance Indicators fingertips.

(KPIs) for a cardiology centre in 2014 where it had Currently, Ministry of Health is working to expand

successfully generated seven out of eight cardiology the use of SNOMED CT for MyHarmony applications

KPIs. “Currently, another work is underway for the by expanding the development of reference set (refset)

development of a reference set for oral health. Soon, for Oral Health, Pharmacy and Pathology.

the work will include the development of pathology MyHarmony was tasked to generate Cardiology

reference set and a drug data model. The mapping of Key Performance Indicators for a cardiology centre

traditional Chinese medicine terms from Mandarin to and successfully generated 7 out of 8 Cardiology KPIs.

SNOMED CT is also going on now,” said Dr Dzulkefly This event was supported by the Malaysia Convention

Ahmad. & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), of the Ministry of

Delivering a plenary talk titled ‘SNOMED CT Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC). They

Implementation in Malaysia” the minister said serve as a central hub to assist meeting and event

“MyHDW deals with secondary use data, which planners to bid for and stage international business

is the collection and the use of non-identifiable events in Malaysia and act as a conduit for national

granular patient data such as demographic, clinical product development.

and procedural data for purposes other than direct (Ankit Kankar was in Kuala Lumpur on an

patient care. In dealing with sensitive healthcare data, invitation from SNOMED as a part of Media

maintaining data privacy and patient confidentiality Delegation for SNOMED CT EXPO 2019)


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