The Korea Herald


KT, NGeneBio sign deal for genetic data-based digital health care service

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Published : Sept. 25, 2020 - 14:28

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(KT) (KT)
There is a surge of movement from Korean telecommunications firms noticeably seeking to enter the digital health care market.

KT on Friday said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with local gene sequencing company NGeneBio to jointly develop a personalized health care product based on genetic data analysis.

Earlier in the week, KT also said that it will work together with Medical Partners Korea to launch an information and communication technology-based epidemic control system in Kazakhstan this year and Russia next year.

“Digital bio” is the core of KT‘s future business strategy, the firm said.

Similarly, SKT has signed a trilateral memorandum with Macrogen, another leading genome sequencing company, and Invites Healthcare to launch a gene-based one-on-one health care coaching service app.

According to the US health care market research institute Kalorama Information and Global Market Insights, the market for the direct-to-consumer genome sequencing market is forecast to grow to $2.5 billion by 2025.

DTC genome sequencing is where a consumer directly asks a sequencing company to collect and analyze his or her DNA.

Globally, there are still ethical hurdles that limit the scope of DTC gene readings, such as regulating consumers to consult a doctor when they wish to know their innate chance of contracting a serious illness, due to concerns of inhumane choices consumers may make based on their findings.

There are still clear benefits to be gained through deeper awareness and understanding of one‘s genetic traits. For example, knowing a person has greater likelihood to lack certain vitamins, or a genetic code that makes them put on weight easily, or loose skin elasticity from early age may give them forewarning to preemptively take personalized, preventive measures.

NGeneBio started as a KT in-house venture. Other than manufacturing reagents and software for precision diagnosis, NGeneBio also has a next-generation genome sequencing device that is approved by local drug authorities. This NGS device, as the first such case in Asia, has received European sales authorization CE-IVD for precision diagnosis of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Through the new memorandum, KT will leverage its know-how in artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing to create synergy with NGeneBio‘s genetic information decoding expertise.

The areas the two will collaborate on include personalized health care coaching services for dietary and exercise programs, platform development for personal genomic data storage and maintenance and big data analysis service for genetic data.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (