Lung cancer, composite image

Genomics pioneer Dennis Lo and Prenetics are collaborating to create a new company focused on early cancer detection. The firm, Insighta, will use the breakthrough FRAGMA technology Lo published on in 2022. Prenetics will provide $80M in cash and $20M in stock for the 50/50 joint venture, which, according to Prenetics, is the largest private life sciences deal in Hong Kong history.

“Our primary focus for the initial launch will be in Mainland China, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. On a global scale, we intend to forge alliances with healthcare institutions and forward-thinking governments that align with our vision,” said Danny Yeung, CEO of Prenetics.

The early cancer detection screening opportunity is estimated to be worth $6B in Asia by 2039.

Insighta’s first test, Presight, is set to begin a multi-country 5000-patient clinical trial in early 2024. The initial tests will be focused on liver and lung cancer, with the aim of commercially availability in Mainland China and Hong Kong by 2025. Liver and lung cancers are the first and second most lethal forms of cancer in Mainland China and pose a significant health threat across all of Asia. In 2027, Insighta plans to launch Presight One, a multi-cancer early detection test capable of detecting more than 10+ different cancers.

Yeung will take the CEO role and Lo will be Chairman of Insighta. Lo is a Professor of Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Scientific Director of the Centre for Novostics. He is renowned for his groundbreaking work in non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) and in liquid biopsy, for which he received the Lasker Award in 2022.

Lo said, “Insighta is dedicated to introducing a breakthrough technology, ‘FRAGMA’. The science behind Presight holds immense potential for multi-cancer early detection. Epigenetics studies the modifications of DNA that affect its behavior without changing the DNA sequence. Fragmentation patterns of plasma DNA can be used as an epigenetics-based cancer test with high accuracy and a simple workflow.”

He added that, “Another key distinguishing hallmark of Presight is its cost-effectiveness. This innovation doesn’t merely represent a significant leap in cancer detection—it has the potential to transform millions of lives and change the trajectory of cancer prognosis, offering hope where it was once scarce.”

Yeung noted, “With a target price of less than $200 per test, Insighta exemplifies our commitment to advancing science for the betterment of global health. Our objective is to transform early cancer detection from a luxury to a universally accessible necessity.”

Cancer causes an estimated 10 million deaths each year worldwide, including six million fatalities in Asia alone. Early detection is key, but most cancers are diagnosed in their advanced stages when treatment options are limited. Despite the importance of screening, the current globally-accepted guidelines only encompass five specific types of cancer. Since there are no recommended early detection screenings for cancers accounting for nearly 71% of global cancer-related deaths, this is a huge unmet need.

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