The government of Thailand is launching a Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences Pharmacogenomics Project to relate health records and personalized medicine information, such as genomic and proteomic data, gathered from hospitals and university research centers throughout the country.
The database, which is up and running, was established through a contract with Oracle. Oracle declined to release financial details.
"One of the reasons why the ministry has pursued and has funded this sort of opportunity is to make certain that there is a commercial potential for this," Tom Jones, Oracle vice president and chief medical officer, told Pharmacogenomics Reporter. Investors or companies wanting access to the data would likely proceed through negotiations with the TCELS and other Thai government agencies, he said.
Representatives of the Thai government could not be contacted before press time.
The project will initially focus on epidemiology, especially that of diseases specific to the region. "It is critical that countries including Thailand, in partnership with the private sector, put in place policies and innovative infrastructures to address public health threats such as SARS and AIDS, Suvit Khunkitti, the Thai minister of information and communication technology, said in a statement.
After its use in straightforward epidemiology, the information in the database would be useful to researchers seeking to understand and capitalize on the relationship between disease response and genomic and other measurable individual variations, said Jones. "What they want to do is prepare for much more sophisticated clinical trials by using the ability to [take patient molecular data] and marry that with clinical profiles of patients," in order to more carefully define cohorts of patients, he said.
The TCELS Pharmacogenomics Project will favor data that have been produced according to predetermined standards, such as the Affymetrix method of standardizing microarray data, said Jones. The database has no projected final size, and could potentially include information gathered from most Thais, he added.
Oracle's system requires patient consent for inclusion into the database, while the government, academic institutions, and hospitals are responsible for authorizing investigators to access the information, Jones said.
Regarding how diagnostic companies interested in the data should relate to TCELS, Jones said, "It would be useful for these centers to have a laundry list of requirements on the part of diagnostic companies as to what sorts of information would be most helpful to them."
The TCELS was established by the Thai government in June 2004.