Chinese startup develops PCR testing equipment for household use

Business Health
Chinese startup develops PCR testing equipment for household use

Ustar, a Chinese point of care (POC) startup that designs molecular diagnostic systems, has raised about 300 million yuan ($2.6 million) in a Series E+ funding round.

The investment was led by CPE Yuanfeng. Current Ustar shareholder Oriental Fortune Capital also made an additional investment.

Ustar plans to use part of the funds raised to make its flagship high-throughput, fully automatic nucleic acid amplification test system more efficient. The rest will be used to expand the types of testing, to mass-produce polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing systems for household use, and to develop a next-generation testing platform.

Since its establishment, Ustar has focused on POC molecular diagnosis products.

The company's integrated PCR extraction and amplification solutions have been certified by domestic and foreign organizations, including the National Medical Products Administration of China. They have also received certification from the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency and the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia. Ustar has also obtained "CE marking," which guarantees compliance with European safety standards.

Ustar's POC testing products are already used at more than 2,000 medical institutions in China and are sold in more than 60 countries around the world.

They are used at large medical institutions' outpatient clinics. The company's rapid tests can screen for a number of pathogens, including COVID-19. It also develops reagents for pathogen testing in fields such as respiratory organs, reproductive function and hospital infections.

With COVID-19 spreading around the world, the home diagnostics market is likely to see strong growth. According to a report published by research specialist Fior Markets, the global home diagnostics market is forecast to grow from $4.78 billion in 2017 to $6.53 billion by 2025.

Against this backdrop, Ustar has also developed a self-administered PCR test for home use. The product can determine whether someone is infected with the novel coronavirus. The company intends to expand the scope of its testing products to cover influenza as well.

As Ustar has succeeded in standardizing sample collection and automating diagnosis, it is possible for users to obtain accurate results without special training.

Recently, iHealth Labs, the U.S. subsidiary of Andon, was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the over-the-counter sale of its COVID-19 antigen testing kit. This will allow iHealth Labs to sell the kit to the public in the U.S. and elsewhere during public health emergencies.

In addition to Andon, Chinese companies such as Hotgen and Wondfo are deploying testing kits for household use in overseas markets, but they have yet to set up sales channels in China.

36Kr, a Chinese tech news portal founded in Beijing in 2010, has more than 150 million readers worldwide. Nikkei announced a partnership with 36Kr on May 22, 2019.

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