Bionet Corp (訊聯生物科技), a leading cord blood bank company, said yesterday that it planned to launch a baby-tooth stem cell preservation service in July, with a forecast business opportunity of NT$9 billion (US$295.2 million), a company executive said.
The new preservation service will target the nation’s 2 million children aged between six and 12.
Preservation fees, which cost NT$150,000 over a 20-year period, could generate nearly NT$9 billion in business, based on Bionet’s forecast of a market penetration rate of 3 percent for its new service in the first stage, which will take at least two years.
“The new baby-tooth stem cell preservation service will help expand our service from pregnant women and newborn babies to the children’s market, with an estimated population of nearly 2 million,” Bionet chairman Chris Tsai (蔡政憲) told a media briefing.
The firm plans to cooperate with local dentists to promote the service, Tsai said.
Bionet said that teeth, as well as dental pulp and gums, are a rich source of stem cells. Once a child’s baby teeth fall out, they can become a source of stem cells after being processed and preserved by the company.
“Tooth stem cells are the third-generation stem cells after cord blood stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells (MSC),” Tsai said.
Bionet’s net profit surged 165.2 percent to NT$23.86 million last quarter from NT$9 million a year ago, the company’s latest report showed.
Speaking of industry challenges, Tsai said that Bionet and other local biotech firms were having difficulties obtaining government subsidies or tax breaks because of the administration’s narrow and outdated definition of biotechnology investments.
As a result, only three companies have sent in their applications so far, Tsai said.
Other challenges include potential industry consolidation or expansion in Asia and how that would impact on local biotech firms, he said.
Bionet’s gross margin rose to 78 percent last quarter from 75 percent a year ago, while its net earnings per share (EPS) surged 116.7 percent to NT$0.78 last quarter from NT$0.36 a year ago, the report showed.