|EDGC's non-invasive prenatal technology using cell-free DNA technologies has recently earned a patent in Singapore. GETTYIMAGESBANK|
By Ko Dong-hwan
South Korean genetic sequencing analyzer Eone Diagnomics Genome Center (EDGC) has earned a patent in Singapore for prenatal tests without penetrating a womb ― also known as non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT).
The new genetic analysis using cell-free DNA technologies predictively diagnoses whether a fetus carries any genetically induced disease or health issue, or is a boy or a girl, the company based in Incheon's Songdo said on Oct. 22.
"The patent technology using 'machine-running algorithm' can be applied to all platforms for next generation sequencing (NGS) and can detect any abnormality in autosome or sex chromosome," a company official told The Korea Times.
With the patent, EDGC will boost promotion for NICE ― its NIPT service ― and Bebegene, its rare disease diagnosing service for a newborn, in Asia. The company recently started providing NICE, Bebegene and other latest NGS-based services to Asia's largest private cord blood bank Cordlife in Singapore as well as Thailand's BRIA.
NICE's sales overseas surpassed that of South Korea and was impressive even during the COVID-19 global pandemic, according to EDGC. The service won recognition from Korea's Ministry of Trade and Industry in November 2019.
|Researchers work in a lab at EDGC headquarters in Incheon. Courtesy of EDGC|
The new technology is expected to open doors for EDGC in Southeast Asian countries, where 12.85 million babies are born every year.
Singapore Thomson Women's Clinic gynecologist Tan Kai Lit said pregnant women in Singapore disliked the conventional prenatal test, which involves injecting a needle to extract amniotic fluid.
"EDGC's NIPT using a blood sample guarantees safety for both mother and baby and is precise 99 percent in diagnosis, which makes it a game-changer in this industry," Tan said.
EDGC's cell-free DNA technologies recently earned three patents in South Korea and are in the same process in overseas. The South Korean government acknowledged the technologies' value as the national asset of intellectual property and selected the company as "global IP star."
Alongside American firm GRAIL, EDGC leads the global genetic sequencing industry with a liquid biopsy that allows predictive diagnosis of diseases using cell-free DNA analyses.