Genz: Revolutionizing Diagnostics – An Interview with Umut Ağyüz, Founder & CEO
In this exclusive interview with Umut Ağyüz, the Founder & CEO of Genz Biotechnology, we delve into the inspiring story of Genz’s inception, its mission as a biotech startup, and the pivotal role it aims to play in the healthcare ecosystem.
Genz was born as a spin-off from Middle East Technical University, where Umut Ağyüz embarked on his Ph.D. thesis, focusing on genetic markers for early breast cancer diagnosis. The project garnered financial support from the Turkish Ministry of Health and earned a spot in an international accelerator program among 830 early-stage startups. With the backing of two Turkish venture capital firms, Genz Biotechnology officially came into existence.
The mission driving Genz is to transform the diagnostics industry. Over the years, the company has secured research grants from the Turkish Ministry of Science and achieved remarkable milestones. They have developed three CE-IVD genetic tests, COVID-19 laboratory and point-of-care (POC) tests, and forged collaborations with eminent scientists from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Brown University, and ETH Zurich.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented a turning point for Genz. While focusing on high-tech diagnostic testing solutions during the crisis, the company realized the urgent need for innovative technologies. They are currently engaged in pioneering projects that will shape the future of the diagnostics market. Genz aims to introduce their solutions to over 200 potential international distribution channels, leveraging partnerships with leading in vitro diagnostics (IVD) suppliers in the region.
One of Genz’s flagship products is the GENZPRO COVID-19 testing system, perfectly tailored for emerging markets. This revolutionary system requires just one drop of blood and provides rapid results within minutes. With an easy-to-use interface, GENZPRO enables accurate testing at the point of care without the need for extensive medical expertise. The smart and cloud-connected platform allows instant sharing of results with patients, physicians, and central health systems. Currently, the GENZPRO platform offers the COVID-19 neutralizing antibody test, providing insights into recovery and immunization levels. Future developments include additional test parameters, a home testing version, and the integration of AI health assistant functionalities.
The pandemic had a profound impact on Genz’s strategy for product development and launch. The diagnostic industry witnessed unprecedented attention as biotech and medtech companies raced to develop COVID-19 testing solutions. Umut Ağyüz believes that this accelerated development will ultimately benefit humanity. With evolving patient behavior and an increased preference for on-site POC testing solutions like GENZPRO, Genz has been under pressure to introduce their solution to the market promptly. The entire team is tirelessly working to provide solutions that support healthcare professionals and patients alike.
When discussing concerns about the notoriety of Theranos, the disgraced American diagnostics company, Umut Ağyüz dismisses any worries. Genz distinguishes itself by focusing on tangible improvements in patient outcomes through novel, fast, affordable, and convenient testing. Several validation studies have already been conducted in collaboration with esteemed institutions such as university hospitals.
Reflecting on the Turkish biotechnology R&D ecosystem, Umut Ağyüz highlights the significant trends for the next five years, including anti-aging, cell therapies, oral vaccines, anti-cancer therapeutics, and homecare POC medical technologies. However, he acknowledges the challenges faced by startups like Genz, such as the need for improved academic R&D facilities and increased biotechnology research grants. Financial support for qualified researchers, joint projects, and international collaborations should be a governmental strategy to foster innovation in the field.
Genz’s contributions to sustainability focus on reducing healthcare inequality,