Genomics group gets $75m capital injection

By HE WEI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-03 08:10

WuXi NextCODE, a contract genomics company headquartered in Shanghai, announced on Tuesday that it received a $75 million capital injection, as China targets precision medicine using gene sequencing as a new focus for improving health and medical standards.

The fresh financing is being led by Yunfeng Capital, a fund backed by billionaire Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and Singaporean investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte, WuXi NextCODE said in a statement.

The company said it will use the proceeds from this round of financing to advance the commercialization of its consumer solutions for the China market, strengthen its global leadership position in informatics, and expand its capabilities in artificial intelligence and deep learning.

"Genomics is at the crossroads where data and biology meet," said Li Ge, chairman of WuXi NextCODE and its parent WuXi AppTec Inc.

"Through its comprehensive capabilities for digitizing, managing and analyzing genome data, WuXi NextCODE is positioned to build an open access and capability platform that enables any organization or individual to benefit from genomic big data," he said.

WuXi NextCODE was formed in 2015 after Shanghai-based contract research giant WuXi AppTec acquired genomic analysis firm NextCode Health, a spinoff from Reykjavik, Iceland-based Decode Genetics.

With offices in Shanghai, Reykjavik and Cambridge in the United States, the company provides capabilities for generating, organizing, mining and applying genomic data.

Ideally, gene sequencing can enable doctors to use a person's genome and physiology to determine the best treatments for a disease.

To make better use of the pool of information, WuXi NextCODE announced a partnership last year with Huawei Technologies Co, China's largest telecommunications equipment maker, to enable different institutions and researchers to store their data.

Included in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), precision medicine is predicted to be the next big thing as China moves to upgrade its healthcare landscape. By 2030, the industry expects investments to soar to approximately 60 billion yuan ($8.7 billion), according to US-based market research firm BCC Research.

Gene research is not only an effective way to prevent birth defects and discover genetic diseases in their early stages. It can also provide drugs and treatment plans tailored to a person's unique genetic code and environmental exposure, said Xu Ruiqi, general-manager of BGI's Shanghai branch, a world-leading genome sequencer.

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