The Nation July 3, 2012 1:00 am
The Thailand Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS) had a successful experience at the 2012 BIO International Convention in the US, forming collaborations with giant US firms to develop advanced pharmacogenomic technologies, plus research partnerships with South Korea.
The collaborative project with the US is aimed at developing "probe capture assay" applications on next-generation DNA-sequencing technologies for HIV-1 pharmacogenomics, the most advanced of its kind in the world. It will put new tools for diagnosing both human and virus genomes in the hands of front-line physicians, and bring clear benefits to patients.
The 2012 BIO International Convention held last week in Boston, Massachusetts drew 20,000 participants including researchers, scientists, investors and businessmen from both the public and private sectors. TCELS led a team of Thai delegates from allied agencies including the Board of Investment (BoI), National Nanotechnology Centre (Nanotec) and Naresuan University. Works by Thai researchers were presented at the Thai Pavilion.
TCELS presented projects under its support including a whitening product made from natural latex extracted by Prince of Songkla University; the discovery of genes allergic to the anti-retroviral drugs Nevirapine and d4T (a world first discovery by the Pharmaco-genomics Project at Ramathibodi Hospital with Mahidol University); and other pre-clinical and clinical research developments that meet international standards. This is to prove the country's potential in research collaboration and services.
TCELS acting head Kamchorn Balangura said that over the four-day event, more than 700 visitors showed their interest and sought details about Bio-Nanotechnology investment, standard clinical research and development, as well as Thai life-science products.
Kamchorn said the event was a great success for Thailand, as the team was able to establish tie-ups with counterparts from major countries in the field like South Korea and the US. The Chuncheon Bioindustry Foundation (CBF), a South Korean regional industrial estate, is interested in integrating research in the industry, and has already signed an MoU with Thailand.
US biotechnological firm Pathogenica, which works on advanced DNA-sequencing technologies, also agreed to sign an MOU to collaborate with the TCELS-supported Pharmaco-genomics Project.
Prof Wasun Chantratita, head of the Pharmacogenomics Project, said Dr Yemi Adesokan, the chief of Pathogenica, had followed Thai research on pharmacogenomics for a while and expressed an interest in establishing a collaboration. After learning that the Pharmaco-genomics team was at the convention, talks were held and the groups agreed to work together.