Five-year action plan for the Genomics sector approved

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Genomics

Genomics is a specialist branch of science that focuses on the structure, evolution, function, editing and mapping ofgenomes. Not to be confused with genetics, which is a study of individual genes and amongst other things how they are inherited, genomics is concerned with the entire set of DNA of an organism. It encompasses DNA sequencing and bioinformatics to collectively understand biological data.

The studies have great potential to stop diseases and to eradicate a number of medical conditions, which still persist today. There have been many leaps in the field in recent years but as new technology is developed the pace is only likely to accelerate.

Genomics is at the forefront of microbiology and is one of the high-technology sectors endorsed under the government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project.As such, approval was given by the cabinet to develop the genomics sector during the period of 2020 to 2024 with an injection of up to 4.5 billion baht, in order to give Thailand a competitive edge in the industry.

The EEC project will see Thailand become a center of excellence for Genomics and related industries.

Nathporn Chatusripitak, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, was quoted as saying, “Genomics is a significant technology that can help develop Thailand as the region’s medical hub. The action plan should help draw private investment and joint ventures between government agencies and potential private firms,” adding, “The EEC Office needs to team up with the Board of Investment to work out plans to promote the industry and encourage related agencies to conduct R&D and private investment.”

Genomics really can help to save a great deal of money in the medium to long term as it can be the foundation for understanding serious medical conditions and can be the building block for new drugs to combat diseases.

It is estimated that savings of up to 70 billion baht per year could be made based on strides in the understandingof just five key conditions (cancer, HIV, diabetes, stroke and acute coronary syndrome). As other conditions are targeted, they could collectively increase the savings by a considerable margin.

In a related development the cabinet also approved a 34.83 billion baht budget for the medical doctor development program, which aims to increase the number of doctors in Thailand to a ratio of 1 per 1200 head of population. In the first three years 9,168 doctors will be developed with a further 15,394 from 2022 to 2027.