Singapore Billionaire’s Son Leads Biotech Labs To Export COVID-19 Test Kits

30-Apr-2020 Intellasia | Porbes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

As Singapore extends its semi-lockdown to June 1 in response to a wave of new coronavirus cases, local biotech firms are racing to develop tests and treatments to help in curbing the spread of COVID-19. Joining the efforts to produce antibody screening tests is Dr Kuok Meng-Han, the son of palm oil magnate Kuok Khoon Hong who currently has a net worth estimated at $2.3 billion on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List.

The younger Kuok is the founder and managing director of privately held Camtech Diagnostics, a biotech company established in 2011 that develops products for the biodefence, food and healthcare industries. Its rapid antibody test kits are said to detect past or present coronavirus strains that exist in an individual’s bloodstream.

The test is one of the 24 that have received provisional authorisation from Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to be sold and marketed to medical clinics and private hospitals domestically.

To date, more than 3 million people worldwide have been confirmed to have been infected by COVID-19 and over 211,000 have died from the pandemic. Singapore has confirmed more than 14,500 cases.

Camtech’s rapid test kits are intended to be used to quickly screen and identify asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, but they are not meant for “confirmatory testing” or as a sole basis of diagnosis. The company also cautions that negative results do not rule out COVID-19 infections as incubation period can vary from two to 14 days. Patient antibodies only appear after symptoms arise, and the earliest time frame to be able to visually detect the virus using its kit is five days after the onset of symptoms.

Camtech Diagnostics, which reported nearly S$1 million in revenue for 2018, is the research and product development arm of Camtech Holdings, an incubator and investor in early stage life science startups. One of it investments is JN Medsys, which has also received provisional authorisation from the HSA for its nucleic acid test kit that promises to be 95 percent accurate within two hours.

Due to the urgent need for mass testing in many countries, Camtech and JN Medsys have been pushing forward with boosting the supply of their COVID-19 test kits and currently export them to Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and China.

Outside of Southeast Asia, JN Medsys says its tests will be distributed in Europe and South America soon. The company also says it’s in the process of applying for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Both companies said they were unable to provide further details at the moment “due to deal confidentiality and capacity issues.”

Kuok established Camtech after completing his studies at Cambridge University, where he earned a bachelor’s in materials engineering and later a doctorate in biotechnology. The startup resulted from his effort to commercialised his Ph.D. project, which involved developing microfluidic biosensors that would be used as a biodefence system for emergency first responders.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/pamelaambler/2020/04/28/singapore billionaires-son-leads-biotech-labs-to-export-covid-19-test-kits/#583fcbf93f22

 

Category: Singapore

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