Biotech

A lot of good work has been done over the last few years in the field of stem cell research, but you would be forgiven if you don’t think that South Africa dabbles in the science.

On the contrary, South Africa is home to two companies who have pioneered genetic technology in the biotech industry – and they are now merging into one company.

Next Biosciences and Genesis Genetics South Africa announced yesterday that the two entities will now become one company, with Genesis Genetics South Africa falling under Next Biosciences.

Next Biosciences owns Netcells, Africa’s largest private stem cell bank, and is now the only facility on the continent to offer genetic and metabolic screening. To make the matter even more impressive, it is also the only company in Africa to store umbilical cord blood and tissue.

“Our two companies share a commitment to demystify the science behind stem cells and genetics, and make the resulting services more accessible. In so doing, we enable people to build healthy families and take ownership of their babies’ future health through the promise of biotechnology,” said CEO of Next Biosciences, Kim Hulett, in a media statement.

Dr Jaysen Knezovich, Laboratory Director at Genesis Genetics South Africa, explained that with the merging of the company, the new entity will be able to make use of the best technology available to further research in the biosciences field.

He explained that many embryos created through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments do not have the right number of chromosomes, which results in nearly 75% miscarriages. But, through advances in next-generation DNA sequencing, that can be corrected.

“Advances have led to powerful new genetic screening tests that increase the number of successful pregnancies as it is possible to identify and transfer embryos unaffected by specific genetic conditions,” he said.

This can only be good news, not only for South Africa, but for the entire biotechnology industry. We need more players to advance this important area of research, and with specialised companies like these two joining forces, they can make a huge difference.