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Seegene Completes $16.6M IPO on Korea's KOSDAQ

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This article was originally posted on Sept. 13.

Molecular diagnostics firm Seegene this week announced the completion of a $16.6 million initial public offering on the Korea Securities Dealers Automated Quotations.

The company, which was founded in Seoul, Korea, in 2000 and has a subsidiary in Rockville, Md., said it will use the cash infusion to expand its international market presence, with an emphasis on the US and Japan, where it is seeking regulatory approval for a number of multiplex PCR-based diagnostic tests.

As part of the IPO, Seegene sold 635,000 shares over KOSDAQ for $26.16 each. Seegene said the resulting $16.6 million gives it a market capitalization of about $167 million.

Seegene is developing a portfolio of diagnostic tests based on real amplicon detection, or READ, PCR, which it introduced earlier this year (PCR Insider, 3/18/2010); as well as dual priming oligonucleotide, or DPO, technology.

According to Seegene, READ PCR differs from probe- and primer-based real-time PCR methods by using a technique called dual signal generation. This process specifically amplifies the DNA sequences of multiple target pathogens, and reads those signals using conventional real-time PCR instrumentation.

The company maintains that READ PCR and DPO together are 400 percent faster and 10- to 100-fold more specific and sensitive for pathogen detection than probe- and primer-based real-time PCR technologies such as TaqMan, molecular beacons, Scorpion probes, LUX, and Sunrise.

Seegene is developing its test portfolio under the brand names Magicplex and Anyplex, and is currently selling several of its tests in Europe and Asia. However, the company has yet to receive approval to market any of its tests in the US.

Specifically, the company has tests for seasonal influenza A subtype H1, H3, and 2009 novel H1N1 available in Europe and Asia; and has been granted a Medical Device License in Canada for its Diarrhea-V ACE Detection test for multiple diarrhea-causing viral agents.

In July, Seegene also launched MagicPlex Sepsis, a multi-pathogen screening test that can identify more than 90 top sepsis-causing pathogens in one test; and the Anyplex MDR-TB test for simultaneously detecting tuberculosis and genetic mutations for multi-drug-resistant TB (PCR Insider, 7/29/10).

Seegene has also identified as a priority the development of a kit to detect vancomycin-resistant genes vanA, vanB, and vanC, which can cause problems in treating infections caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile.

Finally, also In July, Seegene introduced the SeePrep and SeeCycler, clinical instruments optimized for performing the company's READ PCR-based tests. Seegene said that although its tests can be run on current marketed PCR instruments, its new platforms allow it to provide customers with a complete molecular diagnostic workflow including nucleic acid extraction, amplification, real-time detection, and analysis (PCR Insider, 7/27/2010).

Seegene said that since 2007, its sales have experienced an annualized growth rate of 170 percent. The company also said that it logged sales of $9.5 million for the first half of 2010. In comparison, the company took in about $11.2 million in receipts for all of 2009.

Seegene CEO Jong-Yoon Chun said in a statement that the market response to its READ technology and Magicplex and Anyplex tests has been "extremely positive," and that the company is currently in discussions with more than 20 companies interested in licensing the technology or distributing Seegene's products around the world.

"Later this year Seegene plans to introduce new Magicplex blood-screening and tumor detection tests, as well as a complete automated testing system," Chun added. "As we continue to grow our worldwide market presence, we will seek a NASDAQ listing after approximately three years."

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