Fri, Jul 20, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Bionet sees big future in gene therapy applications


After striking the right chord in the cord blood preservation business, Bionet Corp (訊聯生物科技) expects more profits to be generated from related services and applications that are key to gene therapy, its executives said yesterday.

Taipei-based Bionet is scheduled to make its debut on the over-the-counter GRETAI Securities Market as a technology stock next Thursday, at an initial offering price of NT$23 (US$0.70) per share.

Shares of Bionet were traded at NT$127.08 on the Emerging Stock Market yesterday.

"As our new products have been surprisingly well-received in the local market, we believe Bionet will be a stock that is capable of generating considerable profits and has long-term development prospects," Bionet chairman Chris Tsai (蔡政憲) told an investor conference yesterday.

Established in 2000, Bionet posted pre-tax earnings of NT$20.29 million (US$618.2 million), or NT$0.91 per share, on sales of NT$317.47 million last year, company statistics show.

That compares with pre-tax earnings of NT$13.38 million, or NT$0.79 per share, on sales of NT$264.52 million in 2005.

For the first six months of the year, the company's net income soared 102.44 percent from the same period last year to NT$20.5 million, or NT$0.83 per share, the company's data showed.

Preservation of cord blood and stem cells accounted for 76 percent of total sales last year, down from 92 percent in 2005, while gene detection, in particular SMA (spinal muscular atrophy) detection, increased from 4 percent of revenue in 2005 to 9 percent last year.

The SMA detection service was introduced in May 2005. At that time the company said its penetration target was 20 percent of pregnant women by the end of this year, Tsai said.

By working with more than 300 hospitals and clinics to promote the check of the common genetic disease, the penetration rate had reached 19.44 percent by the end of last month, he said.

Preservation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has also taken off, Tsai said, accounting for 14 percent of revenue last year.

The addition of MSCs to stem cells from cord blood enhances the performance of transplants and is deemed a vital treatment for blood cancer.

Bionet set up operations in China in 2005, offering prenatal examination service and biotech beauty products, Tsai said.

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