Wang Jun. Photographer: Calvin Sit/Bloomberg
Wang Jun spent 16 years expanding the world’s understanding of what living things are made of — sequencing genomes including those of the giant panda and potatoes.
Now he’s attempting to build on that: using DNA as one component to create online avatars that could act as health-care test dummies for people. Asia’s biggest internet company believes he’s onto something.
Wang’s iCarbonX wants to construct a “digital you” containing biological samples such as saliva, proteins and DNA; bolstered by environmental measurements such as air quality; and lifestyle factors such as workout regimes and diet. The Shenzhen, China-based company is developing algorithms to analyze the data, with the intention of recommending tailored wellness programs, food choices and possibly prescription medicines.
Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Zhongyuan Union Cell & Gene Engineering Corp. invested in iCarbonX, making it one of only three health-care startups in China with a $1 billion-plus valuation, according to CB Insights. Preventive medicine is burgeoning in the nation as cancer and diabetes diagnoses increase. Artificial intelligence systems will generate $6.7 billion in global revenue from health care by 2021, compared with $811 million last year, researcher Frost & Sullivan said.