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54gene launches 7RiverLabs to scale precision diagnostics in Africa

Despite $45m funding, Nigerian biotech startup 54Gene folds after 4 years

54gene, a health technology company, has announced the launch of its diagnostic arm, 7RiverLabs to scale precision diagnostics across Africa, providing patients with advanced, accessible and affordable diagnostic screening.

The diagnostic hubs (named after the 7 major rivers on the continent) will offer healthcare providers and patients access to world-class, cost-effective, speedy, reliable and advanced molecular diagnostics.

“Launching 7RiverLabs is a manifestation of one of the goals 54gene set out to achieve two years ago – to improve diagnostic and treatment outcomes on the continent. With the range of tests 7RiverLabs offers, millions of Africans can begin to take greater control of their health. Our goal with this new diagnostics arm is to ensure that every African has access to our hubs offering advanced laboratory tests without having to pay an exorbitant out-of-pocket fee,” Abasi Ene-Obong, 54gene Founder and chief executive officer.

Since its launch in 2019, 54gene has driven genomics and molecular medicine throughout Africa. Formerly known as DiagnoseMe Africa, 7RiverLabs is designed to equalise precision medicine for African populations.

Building on that vision, 54gene has domesticated diagnostic technology, which is eliminating the need for samples to be sent abroad for analysis at a considerable cost to the patient.

Physicians will now be able to detect and prevent diseases earlier, thereby helping to improve patients’ treatment outcomes and quality of health.

“Patients will receive speedy results that will guide their physicians in reducing late diagnoses leading to poor chances of survival, improve their treatment options and ultimately their quality of life,” Ene-Obong said.

Sample collection centres with over 100 employees are already open in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, with more centres to be launched in 10 major Nigerian cities in the coming months.

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African expansion for 7RiverLabs is also planned over the course of 2022.

As part of its mission to establish itself as a principal provider of diagnostic care driven by ultra-modern technology, 54gene has appointed its Chief Business Officer, Jude Uzonwanne as the diagnostic arm’s interim-Chief executive Officer.

Through the use of state-of-the-art laboratories and marked workflow improvements, over 300 critical molecular tests can now be performed safely and securely which include oncology, infectious diseases, genetic testing and sequencing, anatomic pathology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, haematology as well as communicable and non-communicable diseases.

With some tests costing as little as a few thousand Naira, results, depending on the complexity, are provided in as little time as a few hours to a few days and are sent digitally to patients’ physicians for follow-up.

“7RiverLabs is complementing Government and industry efforts to attain the Nigerian Ministry of Health’s mandate towards improved care for the general population. Hundreds of molecular tests will be made available for millions of people at a fraction of the cost of transporting samples overseas thereby helping to increase early disease-detection and screening rates and save lives,” Uzonwanne said.

As of 2021, the addressable market for medical tests in Sub-Saharan Africa is currently worth $10 billion. At present, the majority of molecular tests are sent outside of the continent, investment in this sector will see the market witness an expected average rate of more than 4 percent growth per annum.

This will be directly linked to affordability, accurate diagnoses, and lighting quick turnaround times which 7RiverLabs is positioned to deliver not only in Nigeria but across the continent.

“This is groundbreaking news for Nigeria; and as we forge trusted partnerships with leading health insurers, hospitals and healthcare professionals, we anticipate that hundreds more jobs will be created in our expansion of services across Africa”.