BUSINESS

Korean gene sequencing startup 3billion raises W3b in funding

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Jul 11, 2018 - 15:33
  • Updated : Jul 11, 2018 - 23:00
South Korean startup 3billion, which specializes in gene sequencing and analysis for rare disease patients, said Wednesday that it raised 3 billion won ($268 million) in Series A funding.

The latest funding round was led by the Korea Development Bank and venture capital firms The Wells Investment and JW Asset, according to the startup. 3billion is also currently backed by Digital Healthcare Partners, a local digital health startup accelerator.

3billion plans to use the newly raised funds to expand the scope of its clinical research as well as improve its artificial intelligence-powered gene analysis capabilities to cement its place in the global rare disease diagnostics market. 

3billion`s saliva testing kit (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Spun off in 2016 from Korea’s biggest genetic sequencing firm Macrogen, 3billion uses saliva to analyze a person’s entire exome -- the portion of the genome that expresses genes -- to screen for more than 5,000 rare diseases at once. The startup provides whole exome sequencing services to interested individuals in the US for under $1,000.

In addition to providing affordable DNA screening services for rare disease patients, 3billion has a bigger goal in the long term -- to compile the data it has gathered from its sequencing business to build a global “genome platform.”

The personal genomic data gathered by 3billion could become valuable data for medical research and targeted drug development for rare diseases in the future, the startup said, noting that treatments exist for only 5 percent of rare diseases known to doctors.

By Sohn Ji-young (jys@heraldcorp.com)


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