Company is exploiting real-time PCR technologies to develop fast multiplex pathogen diagnostics.

Seoul-based molecular diagnostics firm Seegene raised $16.6 million through its $26.16 per share IPO on the Korean KOSDAQ stock exchange, giving it a market capitalization of some $167 million. The firm is also projecting a listing on NASDAQ in about three years. Meanwhile, Seegene aims to use the capital from the IPO to expand its international market presence, particularly in the U.S. and Japan, where it is looking for regulatory approval of its multiplex diagnostic PCR assays.

Seegene is developing diagnostic platforms and assays that exploit its ACP™ (annealing control primer), DPO™ (dual priming oligonucleotide), and recently launched READ™ (real amplicon detection) technologies. The firm’s Seeplex® molecular diagnostic system utilizes the DPO technology, while the Anyplex® and Magiciplex® platforms are real-time PCR systems that adapt the DPO and READ™ technologies.

Seegene claims its READ PCR technology, which was launched in March, is completely distinct from current probe- or primer-based real-time PCR methods, and provides dramatic improvements in sensitivity and specificity when combined with the DPO technology. “The market response to our READ technology and our new line of Magicplex and Anyplex tests has been extremely positive,” comments Jong-Yoon Chun, Seegene CEO. “Our products are defining a new category of molecular diagnostics that are capable of simultaneously detecting multiple pathogens or genetic mutations in a single test. We are in discussions with over 20 companies who are interested in licensing the technology or distributing these products in markets worldwide. Later this year Seegene plans to introduce new Magicplex blood-screening and tumor detection tests, as well as a complete automated system.”

READ PCR uses a method of real-time PCR known as dual signal generation, which works via a two-step process that first specifically amplifies the DNA sequences of multiple target pathogens, then reads those signals using real-time PCR instruments, Seegene explains. The Anyplex and Multiplex systems which use the technology, are designed to allow for the design of real-time PCR assays capable of testing for multiple bacteria and viruses with just one testing procedure.

Seegene is developing a broad range of READ PCR pathogen detection and mutation detection assays. The first Magicplex applications for the READ PCR platform include the seasonal flu A subtypes H1, H3, and 2009 novel H1N1.

In July the firm launched its SeePrep™ and SeeCycler™ instrumentation, which have been optimized for use with the multiplex real-time detection tests. SeePrep is an automated nucleic acid extraction machine utilizing magnetic bead technology. The SeeCycler uses patented block dissipation technology, which Seegene says allows for accurate and fast heating and cooling rates to boost efficiency in DNA amplification and speed reaction time. The 96 well-based system allows for five different analyses to be detected using a single sample.

With a range of molecular diagnostics already having received approval in various global markets, Seegene is pushing on with the launch of a raft of new products. In July the firm launched the Anyplex MDR-TB real-time PCR screening test for the simultaneous detection of tuberculosis (TB) and multi-drug resistant TB strains within four hours. Also in July the Seegene launched its three-hour MagicPlex Sepsis screening test for the identification of over 90 sepsis-causing pathogens. 

Seegene says its product sales have been growing at an annual rate of 170% since 2007. Sales during the first half of 2010 were $9.5 million.

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