Singapore-based biotech company MiRXES specialises in developing RNA-focused research applications and diagnostic tests, such as GASTROClear, the world’s first microRNA blood test for early detection of stomach cancer.
MiREX manufactures more than 500,000 COVID-19 test kits a week. (Photo by MiRXES Pte Ltd)
When the COVID-19 outbreak spread, they faced a drop in demand for their products and services. People were holding back on going to clinics and hospitals for diagnostic tests, while hospitals worldwide were concentrating resources on testing and treating COVID-19 patients. Research laboratories also had to close as countries entered into lockdown, leading to a drop in demand for research reagents.
In view of the escalation of the outbreak, their partners in the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) approached them in early February to mass produce the Fortitude Kit RT-PCR diagnostic test for COVID-19. Moving swiftly, the team in MiRXES completed technology transfer within a week, repurposing their production lines to manufacture 100,000 test kits per week. They have since ramped up their production capacity to manufacture more than 500,000 test kits a week. Their Singapore production site supplies the test kits to 13 hospitals and labs in Singapore, and to more than 20 countries worldwide. They also supply other essential supplies for COVID-19 testing, which include swabs and tubes for sample collection, viral RNA extraction kits, and equipment for automated RNA extraction. Besides manufacturing the test kits, their R&D team started focusing on developing reagents and products that are related to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
“The changes have allowed us to emerge from the outbreak stronger, with enhanced capabilities in manufacturing, with a wider global customer base and new diagnostic product users worldwide. This experience in carrying out the changes gives us the confidence that, in situations such as a viral pandemic, we can respond quickly and act swiftly to bring a new diagnostic test from the lab to the clinic, scaling up production to meet demands globally by leveraging on capabilities which we have built up since our founding in 2014.” - Dr Zhou Lihan, co-founder and CEO of MiRXES Pte Ltd
Co-Founder and CEO of MiRXES Pte Ltd Dr Zhou Lihan
(Photo by MiRXES Pte Ltd)
MiRXES plans to continue to grow and enhance their diagnostic development, expanding from cancer to infectious diseases, and later to chronic diseases. There are also plans to expanding and building a new Industry 4.0 manufacturing site and looking to expand their presence in new overseas markets such as Central and South America, which they had entered through the COVID-19 test kits.