Login / Register

Market OpportunitiesTech & InnovationEntrepreneurshipSustainabilityCreativity & LifestyleHKTDC Updates

My Feed

Market Opportunities

Start-up battles resistant bugs


An innovative Hong Kong start-up develops antibiotics effective against drug-resistant pathogens.


Antibiotics are critical weapons against bacterial infections, but resistant pathogens have become a severe problem over the past four decades as few new drugs have been developed.

Hong Kong pharmaceutical start-up Ynno Med Ltd., founded in 2021, is dedicated to creating new antibiotic drugs. Co-founders Dr. Yang Xiao and Dr. Ma Cong said they chose to develop antibiotics because they hoped to bring new types of antibiotics onto the market, an urgent but unrecognised medical need.

Ynno Med has successfully developed promising compounds based on proven scientific knowledge and used its own AI platform to guide drug design. Preparations for clinical testing will begin within two years.

The science-based research and development is supplemented by AI, boosting the R&D success rate. Ynno Med develops products from the ground up, not me-too drugs or repurposed old drugs, creating first-in-class antibacterial compounds.

The two founders have had lengthy academic careers. A thorough understanding of bacterial biochemistry helped them lead a team to pioneer compounds that inhibit bacterial transcription, interfering with the pathogens’ biochemistry.

These new antibacterial agents have novel structures and biochemical targets, and more importantly fight the pathogens causing common clinical infections such as Methicillin- and Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as superbugs.

The drugs have low toxicity for patients and no bacterial resistance emerged during a 30-day passage experiment, where succeeding generations are exposed. This feature is critical for any antibiotic that hopes to advance to clinical trials.

These features are very promising for the development of a new generation of antibiotics.

Drug R&D is a slow process, which involves target identification, discovery and screening of promising compounds, optimisation of lead compounds, evaluation, drug efficacy and toxicity assessment and other important steps.

Antibiotic R&D is expensive and high-throughput screening assays are not suitable, so the company developed assays internally.

The AI platform reduced the cost of preclinical drug research, but subsequent in vitro demonstrations and animal tests still require many rounds of assessment.

Ynno Med has taken part in Asia Summit on Global Health (ASGH) since 2021, giving the start-up a chance to network with peers as well as potential investors and partners.

The fourth ASGH, organised by the Hong Kong SAR Government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), ran on 16 and 17 May and drew more than 2,800 participants from 40 countries and regions. Participants included policymakers, academics and business leaders and healthcare industry professionals, start-ups and investors who exchanged insights, explored opportunities and collaboration opportunities in the healthcare sector, with more than 120 start-ups on-site.

Ynno Med’s antibiotics attracted potential investors, including those from Mainland China, who sought more information on the firm and its products.

Ynno Med also had in-depth academic discussions with industry insiders on drug assays and their feasibility in the experimental stage.

The co-founders met professionals in other fields who may have opportunities to collaborate in the future, such as commissioned research institutions with rich experience in animal infection models.

"We will keep in touch with them and explore opportunities for cooperation," Dr. Yang said. “We hope that in the future ASGH can attract professionals from more regions to participate in projects and become a channel that provides a cooperation platform for stakeholders from different regions but who share the same vision, moving closer to the goals of innovation and inclusion.

"At the same time, we also hope that Ynno Med’s first-of-its-kind drugs can provide insights into the challenges of the global medical and health industry and the latest developments in medical technology."

Discover More

Subscribe free e-newsletter

Latest on Asia business intelligence
Mobile-friendly design to read on the go
Customise your news by registering online

Learn about latest market updates and insights to empower your business.