Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited




Calls for reform of existing monitoring system reinforcing product safety

(Hong Kong, 11 March 2015) With rising public concerns on food safety following the melamine, gutter oil and plasticizer scandals, Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Ltd. (“Vitargent”), a technology start-up incubateed by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (“HKSTP”) introduced its first-in-the-world “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish fish” embryo toxicity (FET) testing technologies, to reform existing scientific tests and raise global product safety testing standards.

“Food Safety” is the theme of 2015 World Health Day. According to the World Health Organisation, unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated two million people annually. Chemical contamination can also lead to diseases such as cancer. New safety threats on food and consumer goods are constantly emerging while changes in production, distribution and consumption all pose challenges to the national product safety system.


Past experience and studies have shown that the precision rate of chemical toxicity testing for unknown samples is only about 20%, resulting in omission of a lot of toxins. Vitargent’s first-in-the-world transgenic medaka and zebrafish fish embryo toxicity (FET) test technologies (see appendix) has the capacity to screen over 1,000 toxins at one time. The technologies can be applied to product safety testing across various fields and is a much more comprehensive and cost-effective solution compared with traditional product safety tests which can only test 5 to 10 toxins at a time. By applying the new technology together with the traditional chemical analysis, the comprehensive testing system can increase safety scores from the current 30 to 80*, offering a revolutionary and effective testing solution for the world.

“Transgenic medaka fish” can be used for product safety testing of raw materials commonly appeared in daily consumer goods (including food, medicines, plastic products as well as cosmetic and skin care products), as well as monitoring water quality. Transgenic medaka bioassay (estrogen equivalent testing) is Vitargent’s exclusive technology, which sees fish embryos become fluorescent in the presence of estrogens, and the intensity of the fluorescents can quantify the toxins. The entire test only requires 24 hours.

Another biological toxicology testing technology, which makes use of “Zebrafish” embryos to detect overall toxicity, target organ toxicity, and the toxicology mechanism of a product, can be applied on various fields including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and sewage monitoring. “Zebrafish” models can mimic human metabolic activities, resulting in the embryos developing defects in the presence of toxins within 48 to 72 hours, making it possible to predict product’s toxicity on fish and its potential effects on human beings. Successful experiments show the “Zebrafish” embryos bioassay can screen over a thousand kinds of harmful chemicals, and reflect the effects of food and products on organisms in a comprehensive and effective way.


Vitargent’s technology is widely recognised and adopted by government bodies, academic research institutions, multinational cosmetics companies, as well as food companies in Europe, China and Hong Kong. The saying goes “crisis creates opportunities”, new solutions pop up whenever a problem arises, Vitargent seized the early opportunity and successfully attracted international industry leaders to adopt its innovative technology successfully.

“We wish to be the gatekeeper of global product safety through the use of our bio-testing technology, and realise our vision of ‘Safer Products, Better World’,” said Eric Chen, Founder and Board Member of Vitargent. “Our technologies have been recognised internationally and the ‘transgenic medaka’ and ‘zebrafish’ embryo toxicity (FET) testing technologies are much more comprehensive, effective and rigorous compared with the traditional testing methods. For enterprises, they can improve product safety and quality with comprehensive quality management, and thus gain an advantage in the marketplace; while for consumers, they can obtain more information and choose a product with better quality. We hope to cooperate with government bodies, the industry and other non-government organisations to improve product quality, in order to protect consumers’ interests and safety. That will bring win-win situation for the government, enterprises and consumers, and build a sustainable future for the environment, business, and human race.”


Vitargent has completed a finance deal with the world’s leading venture capital firm WI Harper Group (“WI Harper”) recently. Mr Peter Liu, Founder and Chairman of WI Harper, has become the Chairman of Vitargent and led the company in promoting bio-testing to policy makers and industry leaders in Greater China and around the globe. “Vitargent has the cutting-edge technology and a strong team. As the market turns to more stringent standards on products quality and safety, we see a great potential for bio-testing technology in the global market, and it can be widely applied across various industries,” said Peter Liu. “We are very confident about Vitargent’s prospects and our global experience and network would help Vitargent take off and let more people benefit from its advanced technology, in order to do good and well.”

Vitargent took part in Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation’s Incu-Bio Programme in 2011 with its innovative testing technologies and business vision. It has developed a lot of successful testing cases for various industries, including comprehensive quality management for multinational food and cosmetics companies since 2013, from raw material procurement, to various production process, to semi-finished and finished product testing, in order to enhance product quality. In 2013, Vitargent helped Hoi Tin Tong, a well-known herbal jelly brand in Hong Kong, to conduct tests to prove the existence of turtle-shell collagen content in its product and successfully restored consumers’ confidence. In addition, Vitargent is also trusted by non-profit making organisations, it joined hands with the World Green Organisation (WGO) to test the origin and authenticity of shark fins by developing the world’s first DNA technology for endangered shark species, to identify whether the shark fins are from endangered species. The technology developed by Vitargent can currently identify 10 shark species, which beyond the eight species included in the Appendices of CITES.

* Traditional testing can only detect 5 to 10 chemical indicators. The ground-breaking testing solutions developed by Vitargent will add its unique Zebrafish toxicity indicator, luminous fish estrogen indicator and DNA indicator on top of the existing indicators, which will greatly enhance product safety by identifying more than 1,000 toxins at one time. The product safety score will therefore raise from current 30 points to 80 points with the increased number of toxins detected by Vitargent.

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