Can Vietnam develop precise medicine?

VietNamNet Bridge - To develop precise medicine, Vietnam not only needs fundamental factors such as a workforce, equipment, professional knowledge, and big data about genomes, but also changes in policy.


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According to the Precision Medicine Initiative, precision medicine is "an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle of each person".

Duong Quoc Chinh from the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion said precision medicine is the next step in personalized medicine. 

With personalized medicine, many factors have to be taken into consideration including patients’ biological nature (gene), environmental conditions and lifestyles, and precise medicine quantifies all of this in treatment.

Nguyen Cuong from Vinmec Hospital said precise medicine opens great opportunities for human healthcare and treatment, especially in preventing and treating genetic, cancer and infectious diseases with methods friendly to patients. 

To develop precise medicine, Vietnam not only needs fundamental factors such as a workforce, equipment, professional knowledge, and big data about genomes, but also changes in policy.
“Previously, to discover cancer, it was necessary to use invasive techniques such as biopsies. But now, with low-level biopsy and genomic sequencing techniques, physicians can anticipate more accurately fatal diseases,” he explained.

Most researchers agree that this is a trend of medicine and Vietnam is capable of promoting research and applying research results in screening, diagnosis and treatment. 

“Precise medicine is still a new matter, but many Vietnamese researchers have shown interest in it, which is a great advantage for us to think of using precise medicine in Vietnam in the future,” said Nguyen Van Do from the Hanoi Medical University.

Scientists have emphasized the importance of bioinformatics and pharmacogenomics researchers in applying precise medicine.

“Now, with the development of technology, next-generation sequencing (NGS) is getting more modern which shortens the process and reduces the cost. Vietnam can buy the machines. However, it will still need bioinformatics and biostatistics experts who can ‘read’ and ‘analyse’ the sequencing results,” said Hoang Van Tong from the Military Medical Academy.

Meanwhile, the number of Vietnamese bioinformatics experts remains modest with only some teams at the International University (belonging to the HCMC National University), Institute of Biotechnology and Institute of Genome Research (Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology), University of Technology (Hanoi National University) and Institute of Agricultural Genetics.

Pharmacogenomics also remains little known in Vietnam. The research team headed by Le Thi Ly from the HCMC National University is one of the rare teams involved in the development of drugs based on relations among diseases, drugs and genomes.

Scientists also say Vietnam needs a genomic data center. Because a center doesn’t exist, scientists have to use materials from gene banks in the world when conducting research. However, the genetic characteristics of Vietnamese are different from other populations in the world.


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Mai Thanh

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