| James Kon |
A KOREAN-based company with vast experience in Bioinformatics capabilities is looking to explore Brunei Darussalam’s potential to become a Bioinformatics hub in the region.
The company, KT Corp, aims to achieve this by working closely with the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
Two Korean officials from KT Corp have completed their site survey in the Sultanate on the possibility of setting up a Bioinformatics centre and have received encouraging responses from Brunei Economic Development Board and the country’s healthcare sectors.
In an exclusive interview with the Bulletin yesterday, Kevin Lee Gun Woo, Marketing Director of the Asia Department Global Business Unit and Koo Ja Heung, Manager of Asia/America Marketing Team Global Business Group explained, “Bioinformatics is the conversion of Information technology to the management of biological information. Bio-technology and IT advancements converge to become bioinformatics. Market for human bioinformatics has revealed double-digit growth globally. We can gather, store, analyse and integrate biological and genetic information which can then be applied to prevention measures for diseases as well as gene-based drug discovery.”
The main benefits are from the collection of genome. “We can also promote the use of personal genome service (PGS) to help analyse the genes of individuals through a Bio marker to predict the percentage of obtaining diseases such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease.”
“We are moving from classical medical care of diagnosis, treatment, general care, passive patient to predictive, preventive, personalised and participatory (4P) medical care,” Kevin Lee said.
Meanwhile, Koo Ja Heung cited several examples. “Let’s bring forth Angelina Jolie’s case. After discovering that she carried a faulty copy of the BRCA1 gene, which put her at very high risk of getting breast and ovarian cancers, she made a brave decision to undergo surgery to reduce her chances of breast cancer. It is through identifying such genes that people can take precautionary measures against these kind of future diseases.
“Therefore, instead of catching cancer and breaking your bank with medical bills, we can try to prevent these disease by identifying the kind future diseases an individual may face and take measures against it.”
Speaking on projects, he said, “We are proposing to carry out three projects namely Bioinformatics centre, Sequencing centre and personal Genome services. Through this, we will train local Bruneians for the specialised jobs and this will create employments among the locals.”
In the aspect of sustainability, he explained, “From Bioinformatics Infrastructure, we can move on to Bioinformatics Capabilities then towards Genome DB & Practices and finally Bioinformatics Hub of Asia.”
KT Corp has vast experience in bioinformatics and has successfully completed its research and development. They are in the process of marketability for personal genome services in the past five years. If the project proves successful, this will be KT Corp’s first project on bioinformatics outside of Korea and in Brunei Darussalam.