Korean Medical AI startup Lunit has signed a strategic partnership with Guardant Health, a US bio-health care company, with an investment of about $26 million or 30 billion won from Guardant Health. This is Guardant Health’s first investment since its establishment in 2011. The partnership agreement comes with advance payment and milestone payments, paving the way for Lunit’s IPO goals.
Partnership to help Lunit’s global expansion plans
Founded in 2013, the Seoul-based Lunit unit develops AI medical devices for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The Med-Tech startup has been actively involved in partnerships with major global vendors and expanding overseas in the X-Ray market. Lunit INSIGHT CXR is CE marked and clinically available in Europe, Middle East, Latin America, South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
The company obtained the Korean Ministry of FDA’s approval for its three devices – Lunit Insight CXR Nodule for auxiliary lung nodule detection, Lunit Insight CXR MCA for supplementary chest abnormalities detection, Lunit Insight MMG for auxiliary breast cancer diagnosis. Lunit obtained a Europe CE clearance last year and is also currently undergoing US FDA clearance.
In June 2021, Lunit cleared the domestic market regulator’s technology assessment with the highest ratings needed for listing on the KOSDAQ market. The company had also presented the results of four new clinical trials at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in the same month. Lunit has been planning for an IPO since 2018, when it had appointed NH Investment as the lead underwriter.
Guardant Health, a US NASDAQ listed company, is a global bio-healthcare company with a corporate value of about $11 billion or 13 trillion won. It has secured an unrivaled global market share in liquid biopsy, a precision cancer analysis method that the medical industry is paying attention to. More than 80% of hematology and oncology specialists in the United States are using Guardant products, and they are collaborating with more than 70 global pharmaceutical companies.
Guardant Health to utilize Lunit’s SCOPE for analysis
Guardant Health recently expanded its portfolio to tissue examination. It provided specific details to use Lunit’s AI-based tissue analysis biomarker ‘SCOPE’ in the future when Artificial Intelligence analysis is required. Through this partnership, Lunit has secured large-scale distribution and sales channels for its products. Additionally, by entering into a sole partnership with the investment, Guardant Health will not collaborate with other AI companies developing products similar to ‘Lunit SCOPE’ in the field of biopsy during the term of the contract.
The effectiveness and accuracy of the Lunit SCOPE have been presented at world-class conferences such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Cancer Society (AACR). According to the company, it could find an additional 50% of patients eligible for immunotherapy by using the Lunit SCOPE, and it drew attention by proving its utility in the field of cancer treatment.
Helmy Eltoukhy, CEO of Guardant Health, said, “Lunit’s AI technology has already been recognized by experts in various medical papers and global conferences, which is one of the big reasons why we chose Lunit as our partner. The role of AI in the field is increasing day by day. We are confident that by applying Lunit AI to our medical data and clinical trial network, more effective cancer diagnosis and treatment will be possible.”
Seo Beom-seok, CEO of Lunit, said, “Guardant Health is a company with the highest level of technology and customer base in this field, and it is a significant opportunity to showcase Lunit’s AI to their global network. It is not the end in distribution, but the two companies’ beginning to create a new path to conquer cancer. In the future, we plan to create innovative cancer screening products that can detect cancer not only at the treatment stage but also at an early stage.”
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