Bertis’ proteomics breakthroughs drive US clinical market expansion
This Korean tech firm seeks to expand expertise on treating illnesses with high unmet medical needs.
Eight years ago, the microbiology industry was abuzz with genomics, the study of genomes. Whilst the rest of the industry was focused on this branch of science, one Korean firm, Bertis, focused on proteins.
Despite the low popularity, Bertis knew that proteomics, the study of proteins, is more important as predictors of current disease status. Now, as proteomics is gaining global recognition, Bertis is reaping the rewards of its foresight. According to the 2022 MarketsandMarketsResearch study, the size of proteomics is seen to more than double in the next five years to US$55.9b.
As this happened, Bertis CEO Seungman Han said part of their strategy to be known in the medical industry is to create a strong name for their company. He said they put together the words Bellator, which means warrior or soldier, and Fortis, which means strength and power.
Now, Han had recently put up a US-based subsidiary, Bertis Bioscience, to expand its proteomics-based screening and diagnostic tests.
Han talks with Healthcare Asia to discuss the services they offer using proteomics research to early detect diseases such as breast cancers, pancreatic cancers, and ovarian cancers.
What is the main operation of Bertis as a firm?
Bertis’ mission is that we ultimately overcome deadly diseases by devoting our energy to the research and development of our unrivalled proteomics technology. We ensure that the first step to achieving this is to quickly and accurately diagnose (screen) diseases. Under this stance, we are doing our best to develop products for early diagnosis of various diseases such as breast cancers, pancreatic cancers, and ovarian cancers. Our future goal is to develop a target and treatments for diseases, and an analysis service called PASS (Pan-omics Analysis Service & Solution), a platform for integrative analysis of pan-omics (multi-omics) data, is in progress to discover new drug target substances.
Mastocheck is the world’s first proteomics-based breast cancer blood test solution we have successfully commercialised. This makes diagnosing stage 0-2 breast cancer using 1ml of blood possible and showed a high accuracy of 83% (South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, MFDS). In South Korea, the solution has been used at over 300 health clinics and hospitals nationwide since IVD (In Vitro Diagnostic) medical device approval from the MFDS in January 2019. Recently, Bertis has gained a foothold in the Asian market by recently signing a contract with one of Singapore’s largest medical groups, Raffles Medical Group, to supply Mastocheck. It is also being provided at Solis and Innoquest.
Bertis is also paying attention to developing a novel artificial intelligence and machine learning approach to maximise the utilisation of protein information by discovering the ‘dark matter’ of the proteome, which is currently not accessible. Through machine learning-based bioinformatics technology, it can accelerate the development of diagnostic services by learning the difference in protein distribution data between diseases and normal. Bertis’ unique and expanding expertise in analysing and interpreting the proteome is expected to enable the company to expand into additional applications and diseases where there are high unmet medical needs in detection and treatment, such as ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Last September, Bertis’ research team presented protein biomarkers for early diagnosis of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) with 95% accuracy. The results of this study were published in the September issue of the Journal of Proteome Research by the American Chemical Society. Additional products for pancreatic, ovarian, and prostate cancer are in the works, and we hope to launch markers next year for pancreatic and ovarian cancer.
What’s next for Bertis?
Bertis has established a U.S.-based wholly-owned entity, Bertis Bioscience, to expand the company’s global presence and primarily provide access to the expanding U.S. clinical testing market. In April 2022, the San Diego Research Center opened and established a San Diego based CLIA-certified lab facility in Q4, 2022 to offer its expanding array of highly differentiated proteomics-based screening and diagnostics tests as well as an analysis platform for integration of multi-omics data.
Bertis is also developing a novel artificial intelligence/machine learning approach to maximise the utilisation of protein information by discovering the ‘dark matter’ of the proteome, which is currently not accessible. Our unique and expanding expertise in analysing and interpreting the proteome is expected to enable the company to expand into additional applications and diseases where there are high unmet medical needs in detection and treatment, such as ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer.
What pushed the firm to tap the US market for its proteomics screening?
Bertis was moving into the US market to take advantage of the crucial momentum and investment proteomics has seen in recent years. Last year we saw several proteomics companies go public on the Nasdaq, and there are a lot of proteomics companies that are putting a lot of drive into their research and development of clinical products. We thought that while there is this strong momentum in the market, we should drive with such momentum.
Bertis has established a U.S.-based wholly-owned entity to expand the company’s global presence and primarily provide access to the growing U.S. clinical testing market. The company’s U.S. subsidiary, called Bertis Bioscience, is incorporated in Delaware and established a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified lab facility in San Diego, U.S. in fourth quarter in 2022 to offer its expanding array of highly differentiated proteomics-based screening and diagnostic tests, as well as an analysis platform for integration of multi-omics data.