Valuable to drug companies in developing personalised medicine for the Malay population of Southeast Asia
RESEARCHERS at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) have successfully mapped the Malay genome, a scientific breakthrough which is expected to generate billions of ringgit for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.
This quantum leap in the field of genomics paves the way for personalised or specific medicine to be developed for the Southeast Asian population as the Malay genome is the gene composition of not only Malaysians but also Indonesians, Thais and Filipinos.
Malaysian Biotech Corporation (BiotechCorp) chief executive officer Mohd Nazlee Kamal said mapping the genome could generate “around RM2 billion per annum”.
“The ethnic Malay population numbers some 200 million in Southeast Asia — Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. “The region is seen as a lucrative market as the people are growing in terms of wealth.
“The Malay genome, therefore, is very valuable to drug companies in developing personalised medicines which are more effective as they are targeted at those who share similar genetic traits.
“Most of the medicines developed now are not suitable for the local population as they are designed for the European market,” he said after the findings were announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at UiTM’s Puncak Alam campus yesterday.
Muhyiddin, who also launched the BioNexus Partners network programme between BiotechCorp and UiTM, said developing personalised medicine could spur a high-income biotechnology and pharmaceutical research industry.
“It is a well-known fact that genes play a role in determining one’s risks to certain diseases and how they respond to different types of medicine. “This is similar to efforts being carried out in developed nations which are using genetic knowledge to develop suitable health strategies for local populations.”
Led by researchers at UiTM’s Pharmacogenomics Centre (Promise), the genome was mapped by studying three generations of Malay families, using techniques similar to those used to identify Caucasian and Japanese genomes. The RM150,000 project, fully funded by UiTM using equipment and technology provided by BiotechCorp, began in June last year and took nearly seven months to complete.
Bookmark this page for “genome mapped” and check back regularly as these articles update on a frequent basis. The view is set to “news”. Try clicking on “video” and “2” for more articles.