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DTx start-ups share success stories for innovating healthcare in the APAC region

Johnson & Johnson’s Head of JLABS in Asia Pacific, Sharon Chan, moderated DTx Asia’s afternoon session on day two regarding digital therapeutic start-ups in the APAC region on Wednesday at the Novotel Ambassador Hotel in Seoul.


JLABS is an incubator for start-ups in the pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer health space, located in different innovation hotspots providing resources to accelerate healthcare technologies, according to Chan.


Jogo Co-founder and President Siva Nadarajah, VPIX CEO Hwang Kyung-min, SKIA CEO Lee Jong-myoung, Bridge Biotherapeutics Founder & CEO James Lee joined Chan on stage, to share their experience as entrepreneurs in the JLABS program.


From left, Johnson & Johnson’s Head of JLABS in Asia Pacific Sharon Chan, Jogo Co-founder and President Siva Nadarajah, VPIX CEO Hwang Kyung-min, SKIA CEO Lee Jong-myoung, Bridge Biotherapeutics Founder & CEO James Lee discuss digital therapeutic start-ups in the APAC region at the Novotel Ambassador Hotel in Seoul on Wednesday.


Jogo uses wearable sensors and applications to treat various neuromuscular conditions and chronic pain like stroke, urinary incontinence among others.


Jogo CEO credited JLABS for help with regulatory and trial design which allowed his company to develop a DTx that is performing better than opioids for back pain, he said.


VPIX Medical created a digital biotechnology tool to determine cancerous tissues to aid surgeons performing biopsies and reduce operation time. Also targeting solutions in the operating room, SKIA’s CEO used his background in gaming to produce a digital surgery guide solution based on augmented reality (AR) that superimposes a patient's medical images with a real-time camera view to check the location or shape of tissue from an image projected onto the patient's skin.


James Lee, CEO of Bridge Biotherapeutics, which is immersed in the drug discovery field for developing novel compounds into innovative new drugs, shared his entrepreneurship success story.


“My previous company actually went bankrupt, but because of that failure, I was able to learn what I was good at, and what I was bad at doing and this helped me develop Bridge Biotherapeutics to its current state today,” he said.


SKIA CEO Lee Jong-myoung elaborated on some key trends in the digital health space in the Asia Pacific.


“DTx is gaining more attention from gaming companies,” Lee said.


“Games give immersive experience to users and induce behavior by giving out rewards, so this technology can also be used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).”


Jogo’s Nadarajah revealed that his entry into Asia started in India as reimbursement was easier compared to the U.S. and its technology solved unmet needs in India, Malaysia and the UAE particularly. He said that once appropriate data and science are provided, DTx technologies can succeed as doctors are becoming more accepting to new technologies.


Echoing similar sentiments, VPIX CEO urged the medical community to be more open-minded as new technology cannot survive in conservative medial environments.


Regarding the future of the DTx industry, Jogo CEO said the DTx industry is going to resemble the pharmaceutical industry with many different players as it is very time- and resource-expensive to develop and go through clinical trials for DTx, just like pharmaceuticals.


VPIX CEO also noted, “Although DTx is quite new and has only one or two key players, once unmet needs are targeted, the company can succeed.”


Korea Biomedical Review, Marianne Chang, 2022-11-09


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