DNA-testing startup gets funding injection, enters Indonesia
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Photo Credit: University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment

Photo Credit: University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment

Prenetics’ reports can identify the right drug, at the right dosage, tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup

Tech in Asia

DNA-testing startup Prenetics has inked an investment deal with Venturra Capital, the independent venture capital firm backed by Indonesia’s Lippo Group, one of the nation’s richest family-owned conglomerates. Prenetics CEO Danny Yeung says Venturra Capital will invest an undisclosed amount worth several million dollars.

The Hong Kong-based medtech startup says Lippo Group will act as a strategic partner for an initial period of five years in Indonesia. Prenetics will launch its iGenes pharmacogenomics test in the country. Pharmacogenomic testing helps physicians identify how genes affects a person’s response to drugs. iGenes is a non-invasive, saliva-based test that delivers reports to doctors within 48 hours. The resultant report can identify the right drug, at the right dosage, tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup.

Prenetics secured a seed funding round of $2.65 million in December from 500 Startups’ Khailee Ng, Mark Chang (founder and CEO of Jobstreet), Joel Neoh (founder of Groupon Malaysia; current Groupon APAC VP), COENT Venture Partners, and Yeung himself.

Do the drugs work?

“Precision medicine is the future of healthcare and we intend to make it accessible soon throughout Indonesia,” says John Riady, Lippo Group director and managing partner of Venturra Capital. “Healthcare today needs reform as it is expensive, reactive, inefficient, and focused largely on one-size fits-all treatments for chronic illness and cancer. An answer is personalized, predictive, and preventive medicine.”

“Every year, millions suffer as a result of adverse drug reactions and [it] is the fourth leading cause of death. A majority of these adverse drug reactions are preventable,” explains Yeung.

When a patient gets the iGenes report back, it looks something like what you see below, showing that your DNA means certain drugs should be avoided or may need a lower dosage when starting. The startup will launch iGenes across Southeast Asia and China next year.

Image Credit: iGenes report

Image Credit: iGenes report

When we last talked to Frenetics in December, it was focused on non-invasive pre-natal tests, but the startup no longer does that.

Andy Liu, former Asia president of IMS Health, a company that provides information, services and tech for the healthcare industry, says healthcare-related costs are increasing by double digits annually. IMS did a study in recent years and concluded wrong medications represent the number one most avoidable cost in healthcare, with a more than $200 billion opportunity in markets like the U.S. In terms of population and potential demand in Asia, that number could be much higher.

(UPDATE: The original article mistakenly said the startup offers pre-natal DNA screening in mainland China, but that’s no longer the case. That paragraph is largely removed. The iGenes report image and the paragraph above it was added.)

Editing by Steven Millward and Osman Husain; lead image by University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia

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Leighton Cosseboom

About Leighton Cosseboom


An American journalist providing English coverage on all things related to Indonesia’s tech, venture capital, and startup scenes. I provide an international perspective on Jakarta’s new enterprises and the ecosystem in which they exist.

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