uLikeKorea CEO Kim Hee-jin holds a biosensor, which can easily detect African swine fever at the company’s research facility in Cheonan, about 80 kilometers south of Seoul. Photo courtesy of uLikeKorea

Korean company achieves exploit for the first time in the world

A Korean biotech startup has developed a device, which can early detect symptoms of African swine fever (ASF), the deadly pig disease prevalent across the world.

uLikeKorea said on April 27 that its biosensor implanted into the uterus of pigs measure biometric data like hormone changes to detect various diseases, including SWF.

“Pigs contracting ASF may develop a high fever. But they show no other noticeable symptoms for the first several days. Our biosensor can diagnose ASF early on as it checks pig hormones,” uLikeKorea CTO Charles Park said.

“Our biosensor is powered by a battery, which can operate for a year. Farmers can replace the battery every year to keep using the sophisticated device.”

Currently, no vaccine is commercially available for the swine fever. The disease was first occurred in Africa in the early 20th century and spread to American and European countries.

Since 2018, ASF has spread to scores of countries to lead to a pork shortage. In particular, Asian pig farmers have suffered severe economic losses over the past few years.

The fatal disease also dealt a big blow to the South Korean pig industry, infecting many farms in recent years.

To deal with the disease, the South Korean government has culled all animals not only in infected farms but also those within a buffer zone. But reports on ASF cased linked to wild boars continue.

uLikeKorea has developed biosensor technology since 2019. The Seoul-based outfit plans to launch its commercial service later this year via the brand of LiveCare.

uLikeKorea also said that its biosensor also helps manage other pig-related diseases, estrus, and birthing. The startup said that it has yet to fix the product’s price.

“There are 850 million domestic pigs across the world. They are our target markets. Starting with Denmark, we will tap into such countries as Japan, Brazil, and the United States,” uLikeKorea CEO Kim Hee-jin said.

“We received a patent from the Korean government. We will also apply patents to overseas countries, beginning with Japan.”