China is key market for Singaporean biotech start-up’s stomach cancer early diagnosis kit

The end of 2023 was “a very volatile period” because of factors such as the China property market crisis and the war in Gaza, and “we felt it wasn’t quite the right time” to move forward, Zhou said.

According to the latest prospectus, the company’s revenue grew 36.2 per cent year on year to US$24.2 million in 2023, while it made a net loss of US$69.6 million, 23.8 per cent bigger than its loss the previous year.


‘It did nothing to cure my illness’: Filipino patient falls victim to fake cancer cures online

‘It did nothing to cure my illness’: Filipino patient falls victim to fake cancer cures online

China currently accounts for around 20 per cent of Mirxes’ revenue as the company is still awaiting regulatory approval and has limited business activities there. However, Zhou expects China’s proportion of total revenue to double after GastroClear’s expected launch there in the final quarter of this year.

“The China market is crucial as it will give us the initial scale to bring down the cost,” Zhou said. “And that scale will make us financially very strong as we target other markets, especially those in Southeast Asia.”

He said China accounted for half of all stomach cancer patients globally and over 600 million Chinese people are eligible for screening. As such, the demand in China for Mirxes’ detection kit post-approval could elevate the firm’s gross margin from about 50 to 70 per cent.

“The moment we hit that, it will help us to potentially reduce the price to the consumer as well as make the entire process a lot more cost-efficient,” said the scientist-turned-entrepreneur.

The biotech firm completed clinical trials of the kit in November and submitted a registration application to the Chinese National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) the following month.

“You can see this year as our preparation year for a major commercial push in the years to come,” said Zhou.

Mirxes aims to complete its stock flotation within the next six months and has been stepping up its commercialisation push ahead of the IPO.

“We are very focused … preparing the necessary commercial channels to make these products available to a wide range, mostly public hospitals as well as private screening chains,” said Zhou.

As GastroClear was the first molecular blood test for the early detection of gastric cancer in the market, Mirxes will shoulder the responsibility of educating others in the field about how molecular tests can help with screening for the disease, Zhou said.

While the company has had a solid base in China since it established a presence in Hangzhou city, the capital of Zhejiang province, in 2016, endoscopy remains the gold standard in China for gastric cancer screening and diagnosis.

A major challenge for Mirxes has been getting broadly reimbursed for the product via insurance coverage and the like, Zhou said.

“The national coverage in most Asian countries, whether public or private, is not yet mature when we’re dealing with screening,” he said. “We’re still at the phase where we know how to get reimbursed for treating the sick, but not in preventing.”

This hurdle could limit the rapid scaling up of products beyond the first 5 per cent of market demand, he said.

“It’s a long-term issue we need to start addressing,” he said, adding that the frequency of tests needed to get the maximum benefit needs to be determined over time, which is linked to reimbursement.

Mirxes may decide to devote up to half of the funds raised from IPO to get more products to market, including diagnostic products for colorectal cancer and liver cancer, said Zhou.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.