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Thursday, Oct 28, 2021

Local biotech company makes a breakthrough in disease diagnostics

Local biotech company makes a breakthrough in disease diagnostics

Chief Executive Carrie Lam visited Sanwa BioTech, a local biotech company at Fo Tan, last Thursday in an attempt to re-focus attention on the importance of forging ahead in Hong Kong’s technological innovation and advanced manufacturing eff orts.
The CE’s visit, accompanied by senior staff of the Innovation and Technology Bureau, reflects the government’s determination to play a more pro-active role in nurturing Hong Kong to become an innovation hub in Asia, and support the sustainable development of its economy with a more focused approach. Biotechnology has been identified as one of the priorities in this respect.

Sanwa BioTech saw the trend, seized the opportunity and acted on it. The team is working on a Point-Of-Care testing (POCT) solution development for infectious and time-critical diseases, named ALiA.

The ALiA system is an end-to-end solution that delivers up to 30 results with only a single drop of sample in 15 minutes under a Point-Of-Care setting; it is a robust diagnostic platform for fast-track patient triage as well as proper treatment & prevention at the medical front-line.

ALiA includes an in vitro diagnostic medical device (IVD) and a disposable biochip. The biochip is based on a user-friendly microfluidic Lab-On-Chip to auto-process fluorescent immunoassay on a protein microarray. With its cutting-edge, proprietary microfluidic and bio-array technologies, the ALiA platform can run a wide range of applications in disease diagnostics and healthcare management, including a series of panels developed for diseases with similar symptoms and/or transmitted by the same media, e.g. respiratory infections, STD, sepsis and diarrhea.

For example, tests like the SARS-CoV-2 antigen test, respiratory 4-in-1 test and 5-in-1 test are developed to diagnose patients with similar symptoms of influenza-like illnesses from COVID-19, influenza A/B, RSV and Streptococcus Pneumonia. It enables healthcare providers to process a rapid test in a convenient manner without lab support and provides front lines with a powerful diagnostic tool for medication decision in 15 minutes.

Sanwa BioTech’s efforts have been internationally recognised. Since April 2018, it has become an ISO 13485:2016 certified medical device manufacturer. Its testing platform, ALiA, has also obtained CE IVD and TGA approval. ALiA and its COVID-19 test are ready for immediate commercialisation. With this COVID-19 test being available, the company aims to popularize ALiA as the multi-target POCT solution for diagnosis of time-critical and life-threatening diseases.

During the outbreak of COVID-19, Sanwa BioTech saw the urgent need to make testing even more accessible without sacrificing accuracy. It has then developed CO-Check, the lateral flow based tests of antigen and antibody against COVID-19, which can be easily used in households.

CO-Check, despite its low profile appearance, is able to achieve a test accuracy of 98.8%. Such favourable result could be attributed to its development and production in Sanwa BioTech’s ISO 13485 facility which has a full set of quality control system and risk management under international standards to ensure CO-Check being a good qualified medical test for home users. The company goes by the rules and aspires to provide a better choice for the public over other suboptimal test kits.

The success of Sanwa BioTech owes not only to the efforts of a group of dedicated professionals but also to the backing of the government. The company has received more than $18 million in subsidies from the Innovation & Technology Fund, and will be moving into the HKSTP Advanced Manufacturing Centre (AMC) at the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate, to set up advanced production lines bringing research to life. As the company continues to grow, there have been plans to recruit more graduates from local universities and contribute to talents keeping in the community.

Sanwa BioTech believes that its front line diagnostics and real-time reporting system will find a ready market in the global healthcare industry which is looking for better means of decentralized testing and disease control.

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