Molecular diagnostics company Genetic Technologies (ASX: GTG) is following other industries into China’s flourishing health market with news it has signed a heads of agreement with Beijing Zishan Health.
The blockchain-powered diagnostics company said it intends to explore opportunities to enter the Chinese market via an equally-split joint-venture agreement that will see Zishan marketing Genetic’s BREVAGenplus and other genomic tests within the country’s health sector.
Not only will the joint-venture be evenly split, but the resulting board positions will also be allocated on a 50:50 basis.
Zishan will assume responsibility for delivery of sales, account management, marketing and promotion of Genetic’s genetic risk assessment products for the Chinese market. This will be underpinned by Zishan and its associated entities’ strong relationships with the Chinese government.
Genetic anticipates that Zishan will serve as an “effective liaison” between Genetic and the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA).
One of the prime products expected to be adopted first and foremost by Chinese healthcare customers is Genetic’s BREVAGenplus, a non-familial breast cancer genetic screening test.
According to Genetic, the deal also facilitates work with Zishan to explore options for a “licenced genetic testing facility” in China for the purposes of conducting genetic tests using its patented technology.
Prior product placement
Earlier this year, Genetic Technologies signed a deal with the University of Melbourne to enhance and broaden its genetic breast cancer risk assessment test to the point of including women with a hereditary risk.
The collaborative arrangement aims to assist physicians with improving prediction accuracy when assessing the risk in people with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
With the Chinese market now on the horizon, Genetic’s BREVAGenplus test has already been validated in clinical studies for non-hereditary breast cancer and is available to the public. Its effect is to widen the availability of screening to patients and thereby assist in detecting cancer as early as possible.
Breast cancer statistics
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and is believed to affect one in eight women in Australian and the United States.
According to the latest data from China’s national cancer registry, breast cancer is also the most common cancer among women in China.
Much like suddenly rising cancer rates in Western countries, China’s rapid economic development has also birthed a variety of societal side-effects, including growing rates of obesity, diabetes and various forms of cancer – consequences that have often been associated with modern living habits in economically-developed countries.
In China, breast cancer could potentially be even more frequent in women given the fact that testing is done less often and cannot reach remote areas with fewer adequate medical facilities.
Chinese Government boosts health investment
Genetic’s screening kit could, therefore, help boost screening in China as a whole.
With a growing clinical market and increased government investment in health-related technology, China is poised to become one of the largest markets for genomic testing across a range of diseases.
Genetic says that its screening technology can identify if a woman is at risk and serves as an important early-warning step towards improving outcomes for breast cancer sufferers by catching the disease early or mitigating it altogether.
“China is at the forefront of preventative and precision medicine,” Genetic chairman Dr Paul Kasian said.
“We look forward to exploring ways we can improve the lives of Chinese people by providing insight into the genetic risk that can inform individualised screening and treatment of disease,” he added.
“The Healthy China 2030 plan launched by President Xi Jinping in August 2016 is comprised of six policy areas – one of which is focused on the prevention and treatment of chronic, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancers, stroke and obesity,” says Gao Lei, executive director of Zishan.
“Genetic screening companies have been identified as critical in the early detection of such diseases and therefore lead to proactive treatment.”
“After significant analysis and review of many international genetic screening companies that can participate and truly make a difference in China’s Health sector, Zishan is proud to have selected Genetic as its partner in China – not only because of Genetic’s leading technology but also the executive management and leadership team in Genetic provide Zishan with the confidence of a mutually beneficial and successful partnership in China,” Mr Gao Lei explained.