Oct 09, 2021 / 15:38

Southeast Asia’s largest-scale genome sequencing center set up in Vietnam

The genome sequencing center will serve as a place for genetic research in collaboration with many leading hospitals in the world and in Vietnam.

A genome sequencing center, the largest-scale project of its kind in Southeast Asia, was set up in Vietnam on October 7, according to Cao Anh Tuan, CEO of the Vietnam-based genetic engineering company Genetica.

Tuan said that the center is jointly developed by the US-based genetic engineering company Genetica and the National Innovation Center (NIC).

The genome sequencing center in Vietnam meets the same standards of Genetica's laboratory in the US headquarters and complies with Vietnam’s regulations of privacy, ensuring the most accurate test results, diagnostics, and information security, Tuan noted.

He added that the center will meet the growing demand for genome sequencing in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. This helps save time and reduces costs by up to 30% compared to sending samples for analysis in a laboratory in the US, while still ensuring service standards and quality.

Cao Anh Tuan, the founder of Genetica, and Vu Quoc Huy, director of NIC shake hands at the announcement ceremony under the witness of leaders of the Ministry of Planning and Investment. Photo: Baotintuc.vn

Genetica's genome sequencing results are accepted worldwide, helping users to decode once and the results remain valid for a lifetime, which can be used for medical examination and treatment at major medical facilities and hospitals in foreign countries.

Besides, the center will also serve as a place for genetic research in collaboration with many leading hospitals in the world and in Vietnam, including the Harvard Medical University, the Hue Central Hospital, the Vietnam National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Tam Duc Hospital, the Hanoi Medical University Hospital, among others.

The center aims to bring about many new discoveries about genetic diseases, contributing to the development of gene therapy treatment regimens.

For his part, NIC Director Vu Quoc Huy said innovation enterprises are expecting that the center will create numerous advancements to genetic research, and contribute to building Vietnam as a destination for innovation investments, thereby building a leading innovation ecosystem in the region.

The center’s package of children genome sequencing helps parents to make orientation, care for and educate their children in a scientific and appropriate manner. As of June 2021, Genetica has been trusted by nearly 100,000 customers to perform genome sequencing in Vietnam and Singapore, Huy added.

Man with a desire to bring Vietnamese genomes to world gene map

Ten years ago, Cao Anh Tuan gave up his dream job at Google to join five other Vietnamese PhDs from top US universities to return to the research lab and develop gene decoding technology using artificial intelligence.

In 2018, their company Genetica made an inroad in Vietnam with the aspiration to bring the genomes of Vietnamese people and Asians in general to the world gene map, as well as establish Asia's leading genetic decoding center in Vietnam.

During the recent Covid-19 outbreak, Genetica has developed a tool to help diagnose genes that are more susceptible to the disease and the risk of severe complications. Photo: Genetica

Up to now, Genetica's services have been available in the US, Singapore, and Vietnam. Patents are registered and protected in dozens of countries.

According to Tuan, Genetica has built the first American standard laboratory in Vietnam and the second American standard laboratory in Southeast Asia (after Singapore) to gradually bring Asian genetic engineering services to Vietnam.

Notably, during the recent Covid-19 outbreak, Genetica has developed a tool to help diagnose genes that are more susceptible to the disease and the risk of severe complications.

"Since the pandemic broke out, his research team discussed the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to find solutions to combat the coronavirus. Therefore, Genetica's G-CoVi (Gene Coughing Virus) product was born to provide information about the risk of virus infection through each person's genetic parameters," Tuan told The Hanoi Times.

Genetica is currently coordinating with the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in implementing a project to assess the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection based on the genetic characteristics of Vietnamese people.

"After being approved by the Ministry of Health, it will be widely published, contributing to the world's large gene data bank," Tuan said.

Genome sequencing is the process of determining the sequence of an organism’s DNA, the genetic makeup of all known living things, and thus creating a map of one’s genome.

This process could provide valuable information to help guide diagnoses and therapeutic interventions tailored to each unique individual, and thus be especially impactful in fields like medicine or biotechnology.