Thailand to build genome facility in Eastern Economic Corridor

As part of its transition towards advanced development, Thai officials have approved a plan to build a genome sequencing facility in the Eastern Economic Corridor to fuel the Kingdom’s competitiveness in medical and health research and development.

The Thailand Genome Sequencing Center will be a joint investment between the Public Health and Science and Technology ministries, and will cost $47 million over five years, said Suthep Petchmark, inspector-general for the Public Health Ministry.

Genomics is the study of an organism’s DNA or genetic makeup. Genomes are essentially the building blocks of cells and organisms. Treating and curing diseases through understanding and altering those building blocks is one of the most advanced fields in medical research.

Thailand has a strong reputation for public health and medical research and development, and the government has designated those fields as among 12 industries it is promoting to achieve more advanced development and national competitiveness.

Suthep said that the government expects genomics technology will eventually help save over $2.2 billion a year in treating five conditions: HIV, acute coronary syndrome, diabetes, cancer, and stroke. Currently, the public health system uses private laboratories that can carry out genome sequencing for those conditions, but the costs are extremely high.

The government has also created and passed a five-year action plan for genomics development that will run from 2020-2024. It contains funding for research and development, and designing and developing medical services for genomics, infrastructure, and human resources.

The action plan outlines collaboration between the public health sector and private industry, and the government expects the private sector will also invest in genomic research and laboratories.