Seegene readying to bring a new test kit to address COVID-19 mutations

2020.05.22 13:55:38 | 2020.05.22 13:56:14

[Photo provided by Seegene]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by Seegene]

Seegene, a leading developer of multiplex PCR technologies headquartered in South Korea, will soon file for marketing approval of its new COVID-19 test kit that is able to detect even mutations of the virus, the company’s chief executive and founder Chun Jong-yoon said on Thursday.

In an interview with Maeil Business Newspaper, Chun said Seegene has already developed an unprecedented test kit to cover all mutated forms of COVID-19 and is working on a new product to detect not only the coronavirus but also 17 other major infectious diseases plaguing the world.

“In the future, a new market will open for simultaneous diagnosis of multiple infectious diseases including COVID-19 and we are in talks with several countries including Spain to add our 18-in-1 test kit to a routine health checkup program,” Chun said.

But the new powerful test kit will be available at the same price as the company’s COVID-19 test kit, Chun pledged.

“Future diagnostic kit will also focus on convenience in sampling to enable precise diagnosis with a saliva sample alone,” Chun added. The current sampling method is nasal swabbing which often causes discomfort.

Seegene is Korea’s largest diagnostic test kit maker whose annual sales continue to achieve new records driven by explosive demand for its COVID-19 test kits from around the world.

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Sales for the first three months of this year topped 80 billion won ($64.7 million). At the pace, full-year top-line figure could hit up to 800 billion won, a huge heap from 120 billion won in 2019.

The operating profit is the first quarter was close to 40 billion won nearly twice the full-year level in the previous year.

Some think the company could achieve a milestone of 1 trillion won in sales if COVID-19 threat continues into the second half.

The company has accelerated expansion. A new production and logistics center with 7,600 square meters in size will be completed in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province by the end of June to meet the mounting orders. Nearly all, or 99 percent of Seegene’s COVID-19 test kits, shipped overseas.

Chun also shared his plan to set up an R&D center at Kyungpook National University in the second half, launching an open innovation program designed to allow external researchers to access the company’s asset to develop new diagnostic test kits. If the pilot model is proven successful, Seegene will expand its collaboration labs to include other universities across the nation.

Chun received a doctoral degree in molecular biology from University of Tennessee after studying agriculture at Konkuk University in Korea. He taught biology at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and Ewha Womans University before founding Seegene in 2000.

By Kim Byung-ho and Minu Kim

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]