Rockeby sees hit in fungal infection test kit for women

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 27 Aug 2003

IT took about two years of hard work but biotech company, Rockeby Biomed Corp Ltd, looks set to hit pay dirt with a rapid diagnostic test kit for the detection of fungal infection.  

CanDia5 is the name of the test kit that Rockeby said could accurately detect the fungal infection Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC) in women. 

A single drop of blood is tested and reveals if a woman has a candida yeast infection. 

Considering some 75% of women develop VVC at least once during their lifetime, CanDia5's potential as a hot seller cannot be underestimated. 

At the media launch of CanDia5 last week, Rockeby managing director Dr Tan Sze-Wee said the Singapore-based company had invested “a few million dollars” in the research and development of the product.  

The four-year old start-up, which has quite a number of doctors and high net-worth individuals as its shareholders, is hopeful CanDia5 will help it break even this year. 

Having successfully commercialised the product, Tan expects CanDia5 to contribute 90% to 95% of the company's revenue. 

According to him, the estimated global market potential for the product is some US$350mil annually. 

CanDia5 has been launched in Singapore and Malaysia. 

Tan would not say what Rockeby has projected in terms of sales but noted that on a yearly basis, an estimated 10% of female population was likely to develop VVC. 

CanDia5 test, which now can only be conducted by doctors and general practitioners, has a cost to patient of RM25. 

The company did not discount making it more directly accessible to consumers, and was exploring the possibility of it being an “over-the-counter” product in the near future, said Rockeby Australia research director Dr John R. Warmington, who is also the man driving the company's research into fungal infections. 

CanDia5's main advantage is to allow for diagnosis on the spot, as against the current methods of diagnosis – microscopy or culture laboratory tests that are expensive, invasive and take up to a week for the results to be delivered. 

Rockeby's studies indicate that CanDia5 has a positive predictive value of about 97%, meaning that the test is pretty accurate. 

In a simple five-step test, a patient has her finger pricked, after which the test device reveals if she has tested positive for the candida antibodies or not.  

As there are three types of vaginitis infection – bacterial, fungal or protozoal – CanDia5 allows for faster diagnosis and less second-guessing as to the type of infection. 

And should the patient test positive for the candida antibodies, her doctor can then proceed with the relevant treatment.  

So far, Rockeby has appointed Diethelm Holdings (M) Bhd its exclusive distributor in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Taiwan. 

It is on the lookout for partners in countries it believes will be huge markets for CanDia 5 – Japan, Europe and the US.  

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