During the two sessions each year, the topic of medical treatment and health always attracts extra attention. At present, "precision medicine" has become a hot word in the industry. Precision medicine comprises diagnosis and treatment, while precise diagnosis is the precondition to precise treatment. As the most advanced detection technology in the field of precise treatment, high-throughput gene sequencing technology can significantly accelerate the gene sequencing and shorten the clinical gene sequencing time to 10 hours. With a preciseness above 99.9%, this technology has greatly stimulated the development of precision medicine. Non-invasive in vitro diagnosis technologies such as liquid biopsy and non-invasive prenatal diagnosis have come into being with the development of high-throughput gene sequencing technology. All of these have become part of the profound connotation of "Healthy China" strategy.
A report on gene information can be obtained in 10 hours through a high-throughput and in-depth sequencing and interpretation of trace DNA in blood. With the aid of the report, doctors can diagnose the diseases, prescribe an individualized precise treatment scheme, judge and predict the curative effect, which can prevent the patients from the bitterness of tissue biopsy or amniocentesis. This is the description given by Dr. Sheng Sitong when interviewed by the journalist.
Dr. Sheng said, "For precision medicine industry, a globally hot topic, the most fundamental and important part is gene sequencing. We will explore gene information with our independently developed homemade gene sequencing platform to boost the precision medicine industry and enhance value of life..."
Chinese people need their own gene sequencing platform
In mentioning gene sequencer, Dr. Sheng said, "It's not just a device, but more a complete platform. We keep in pace with the world in our research and development of a sequencing platform centered on HYK-PSTAR-IIA gene sequencer. For this, we have become one of the three companies at present in the world to truly commercialize high-throughput gene sequencing platform, and the other two companies are based in America."
He explained, "Gene sequencing is the core and key technology of precision medicine, while sequencing platform is the difficult area for sequencing technology during its years of development at home. From the extraction, storage, database production of samples, to sequencing, data computation, quality analysis, bioinformatics analysis, and then to the issuing of a report on results, a sequencing platform is much complex than you have understood."
Dr. Sheng also emphasized, "Through constant improvement, PSTAR-IIA sequencing platform has significantly accelerated sequencing. Meanwhile, the sequencing application becomes easier after the gene sequencer integrates functions such as sequencing, data computation, quality analysis and bioinformatics analysis. Now we have applied gene sequencing in both scientific researches and clinical purposes; we not only produce devices, but also produce reagents; our sequencing accuracy has been confirmed by third party authoritative institutions to have reached the internationally leading level, while our cost is only 1/3 that of a foreign platform."
A bigger pride is that from Sheng Sitong returned to China to start business as one of the first batch of "Thousand Talents Program" experts selected by Organization Department of Central Committee of CPC in 2008 to the release of a clinical gene sequencer in October 2015, the team led by Dr. Sheng has insisted on research and development of their own core technology under the support of national policies. They have kept optimizing the sequencing technology, and paced up the industrialization and clinical development. They have managed to release the first sequencing platform in China, which has broken the monopoly of foreign countries in the areas of sequencer and reagents. Moreover, Shenzhen HYK Gene Technology Co., Ltd. founded by Dr. Sheng has also taken the initiative to complete the first important national standard for the field of gene sequencing, which has laid down a solid foundation for China to compete in the international field of gene and enhanced China's speaking right and competitiveness in the international industry of precision medicine.
Boosting precision medicine that will lead a revolution of health industry
Dr. Sheng said, "95% of human diseases are related with gene. Everyone has different gene information, which is not only an important area of life science research, but also an important basis for human to overcome difficult and complicated diseases. The significance of high-throughput gene sequencing technology lies in boosting the individualized precision medicine that will trigger the revolution of health industry."
He said, popularly speaking, through gene sequencing, we will locate the genes with defects, especially the genes that have triggered diseases such as tumor and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Later, we can screen the drugs for these defective genes and develop a precise treatment scheme targeting the disease and individual. High-throughput sequencing technology, also known as "new generation sequencing technology", is an internationally advanced technology that can sequence hundreds of thousands to millions of DNA molecules at a time. At present, the technology has found an in-depth application in four main fields, namely, tumor diagnosis and treatment, diagnosis of hereditary diseases, prenatal screening and diagnosis and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Moreover, with the constant innovation of technology, constant exploration of molecular mechanism for disease, constant expansion of clinical application fields, the technology's clinical application will keep expanding, which will hasten the shift from conventional diagnosis and treatment to precision medicine.
With its independently developed high-throughput gene sequencing technology, the "HYK-PSTAR-IIA gene sequencer" of HYK Gene has become the only clinical gene sequencer to pass the "special reviewing procedure for innovative medical devices", relying on its advantages such as over 100 core patents, originality in China and leading position in the world. At present, the company has won registration certificates for 14 medical devices, including auxiliary devices, reagents and analytics software, which have been applied in some famous large Tertiary Class A hospitals in China.
"Now when we go to a doctor, we receive an assay first; in the future, we may need to receive a gene sequencing first." Dr. Sheng said, "At present, the market of gene sequencing has just started. In the coming 3 to 5 years, the technology will also find broader applications in fields such as clinical diagnosis, screening and guidance for individualized medication. In addition, it will have a direct impetus for the research direction of life science and development of targeted drugs."
"Phoenix Nirvana" Co-building a health dream for Chinese people
From returning to China in 2008, to HYK gene sequencer's qualification for clinical application in 2014, and then to the global release of a gene sequencer in 2015, when looking back to the experience of R&D and starting up business, Dr. Sheng sighed with emotion, "How uneasy it is! There's joy and bitterness. Pressure before success is very heavy. Without large economic yields, scientific research keeps burning money. I am also worried that our progress will fall behind foreign countries. Now we have made it, thanks to the favorable national policies encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship and great support in all areas."
Dr. Sheng said frankly, during the period of starting up business, facing the heavy pressure, he had ever thought of directly purchasing foreign products to offer gene sequencing service and earn money. However, as he thought that his own technology is cutting-edge in the world, and the field of gene sequencer and reagents in China cannot be always be monopolized by foreign countries. We must have our own gene sequencing platform. So we insist on. Fortunately during this period we have received great support from national projects such as "863", so we finally managed to develop our core product PSTAR high-throughput gene sequencing system and make it the first sequencing platform in the field of clinical precision medicine at home.
Today HYK not only has an enterprise, but also has a research institute of high-throughput biotechnology. We have also won dozens of honorary titles such as "Overseas Innovative Research Teams Introduced by Guangdong Province", champion of "Star of Entrepreneurship" Competition of Nanshan District of Shenzhen, and "Key Entrepreneur Team of Overseas Chinese Run Enterprise" granted by Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council; we are also a demonstrative base for production, academy and research integration of Ministries of Education and Science in Guangdong Province, a national "Post-doctorate Workstation" and "Academician Workstation".
The greatest wish of Dr. Sheng is to boost the precision medicine program of China with the high-throughput gene sequencing platform, develop a batch of new-type homemade preventive drugs and medical devices and form a batch of guides to diagnosis and treatment of diseases customized by China and recognized by the world. He said with simple but impressive words, "Gene sequencing has just started in China. As the only enterprise to own gene sequencing platforms with independent intellectual property rights, in the coming years, HYK will continue to provide partners with better platforms and work hard together for the health of Chinese people."