Thailand approves genome action plan

Investing in research and development is becoming part of Thailand’s DNA as the cabinet approved a five-year action plan last week for national genomics development that will help drive advances in the country’s medical industry.

“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,’’ said a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Medical technology, services, and research and development are among the 12 priority industries supported under Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy to achieve advanced development. Thailand’s government had created a raft of investment and tax privileges for those industries and is investing in infrastructure to further their development.

The cabinet appropriated $141 million for the first phase of the genome action plan. The plan covers research and development, and development of medical services for genomics, infrastructure and human resources.

A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, or the molecular building blocks that determine what it is. Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes. Genetics is the study of individual genes and their role in inheritance.

The government said that genomics technology, once achieved, would help save over $2 billion a year in medical treatment expenses for five conditions, cutting the transcription cost for genetic code that runs about $565 for each transcription. The five conditions are HIV, acute coronary syndrome, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.