Dec 11, 2017 04:10 PM

Quick Take: BGI Genomics Partners With Traditional Chinese Medicine Supplier

Photo: Visual China
Photo: Visual China

Chinese genome giant BGI Genomics Co. Ltd. has expanded into a new business: helping to standardize and modernize traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

BGI has agreed to set up a joint venture with Kangmei Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., a TCM developer that cultivates several herb plantations in China, the companies announced Friday.

Kangmei Pharma will contribute 95% of the $7.5 million project’s funding, while BGI will provide devices and technology. A Kangmei representative told Caixin that the drugmaker wants to grasp a better understanding of herbs to control TCM quality and improve its efficacy.

Unlike conventional medicine that consists of isolated pure chemicals synthesized in a laboratory, TCM remedies are complex mixtures of organic chemicals, some of which contain substances that haven’t been studied in depth.

For example, a recent study found that aristolochic acid, commonly found in TCM remedies for rheumatism and pain, is linked to liver cancer. The substance has already been known to cause kidney failure, and China’s top drug regulator vowed to maintain adequate oversight of relevant drugs.

BGI has since 2009 started to explore how genome-testing technologies can modernize farming, such as cultivating new crop breeds and scientifically raising livestock.

In May this year, BGI partnered with the country’s top tobacco provider, the state-owned China National Tobacco Corp., to conduct research on tobacco cultivation and the reduction of tar in cigarettes.

Shares of Shenzhen-listed BGI rose 2.38% on Monday, while Shanghai-listed Kangmei Pharma shares went up by 1.14%.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (

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