Wisconsin company strikes partnership with South Korean firm

Wisconsin State Farmer
Governor Scott Walker meets with Kim Hyun-chaong, South Korea’s Minister for Trade, to discuss the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement and trade opportunities between Wisconsin and South Korea on Thursday, Sept. 14, in Seoul.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — RPRD (Right Patient Right Drug) Diagnostics, a privately-held, Wisconsin-based precision medicine company, announced a strategic partnership with Orient Bio Inc., a leading South Korean biotechnology company.

An agreement signed during Governor Scott Walker’s trade mission to South Korea calls for establishing a business plan in which RPRD Diagnostics will expand the availability of its advanced pharmacogenomics (PGx) testing services into new markets and Orient Bio will diversify its business into new areas, including precision medicine and clinical PGx.

“This new partnership will not only benefit both companies, but it represents the many opportunities that exist for future collaborations between South Korea and Wisconsin,” said Governor Walker, who oversaw a ceremony in which the companies signed a memorandum of understanding. “More importantly, this joint initiative has the potential to improve health-care outcomes as well as patients’ lives.”

Governor Scott Walker speaks to members of the Korean International Trade Association during a networking luncheon in Seoul on Thursday, Sept. 14.

RPRD Diagnostics’ PGx tests help physicians make decisions about the safest drug treatment for their patients, taking into account the patient's unique genetic profile. Tailoring treatments in this way can improve patient outcomes, reduce the risk of negative drug reactions and lower overall costs. RPRD Diagnostics, based in Wauwatosa, has developed cost-effective PGx tests, screening thousands of known genetic variants that improve upon traditional, widely used tests that screen just a handful.

"Orient Bio recognizes the value of our next-gen pharmacogenomics testing approach and the opportunity to improve healthcare in South Korea," said Ulrich Broeckel, MD, founder and CEO of RPRD Diagnostics. "Of particular interest is our recently launched CNT™ Panel, which is highly relevant for patients of East Asian ethnicity who may receive thiopurine drug treatment, prescribed for patients with leukemia in addition to other diseases."

Dr. Broeckel is a lead researcher and professor of pediatrics, medicine and physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, which is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee area and second largest in Wisconsin.

Marianna DeMyer and Jim Gilment, of the Wisconsin-based water technogy company Roving Blue, meet with entreprenuers from South Korea during a networking luncheon hosted by the Korean International Trade Association on Thursday, Sept. 14. Roving Blue, based in Lena, Wis., is one of eight companies joining Governor Walker on the trade mission.

"Our company has established a very successful business supplying many products and services to drug development and life science markets, thus the partnership with RPRD Diagnostics allows us to build upon previous success while also extending our business into clinical diagnostics," said Dr. Jaejin Chang, President and CEO of Orient Bio. "Dr. Broeckel and his team are looking ahead to a future where pharmacogenomics testing is part of routine clinical care, and Orient Bio shares that vision."

The memorandum of understanding was signed Friday in Seoul by Dr. Broeckel and Dr. Chang. In addition to Governor Walker, also attending the signing ceremony was Katy Sinnott, vice president of International Business Development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The agreement was signed as part of Governor Walker’s trade mission to Japan and South Korea. The governor is leading a 22-member delegation that includes WEDC leaders and executives from eight Wisconsin companies. The governor will return to Wisconsin on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.