Thailand collaborates with US Vaccine Research Centre on tuberculosis vaccines

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Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute (NVI) has formed a partnership with the US Vaccine Research Centre (VRC) to develop vaccines against tuberculosis, including those utilising Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. The collaboration was announced following a visit by senior officials from Thailand’s Public Health Ministry to the VRC on April 20.

The VRC is a leading global organisation in vaccine research and has successfully developed 15 vaccine types for various diseases, including influenza, Covid-19, Ebola, Zika fever, and tuberculosis. The visitors were greeted by Richard Koup, the VRC deputy director, within the framework of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

According to the Thai government, the country’s Department of Medical Sciences and NVI are determined to work with the US VRC to create a new tuberculosis vaccine. Thailand has planned to research four types of tuberculosis and mRNA vaccines, to achieve vaccine security in the country through the production of locally-researched mRNA vaccines.

The VRC has also extended an invitation to Thai researchers to participate in international tuberculosis control and research networks, contributing to global efforts against the disease, as reported by Dr Pongkasem Kaimook, deputy permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry.

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Highlighting data from the Department of Medical Sciences, Dr Pongkasem mentioned that 17 agencies have contributed to the Genomics Thailand Strategy Roadmap (2022-2025) to develop genomic medicine. Over the years, the genomic information of more than 50,000 patients suffering from rare diseases or cancers has been recorded, and the Cancer Genetics Clinic has also been established.

The department has plans to include genomic medicine in the universal health scheme, but Dr Pongkasem noted that more medical staff and researchers are needed for medical genetics and bioinformatics. The goal is to have 725 medical staff working in these fields by 2024. To achieve this, the Public Health Ministry will develop a genomic medicine research network to gather genomic information for treatment improvement and genomic data analysis.

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the United States is expected to attend the International Conference of the Genetics Society of Thailand, providing training for genomic code analysis. Dr Pongkasem also disclosed that Thailand has received funding from the NHGRI for genomics development, further bolstering the nation’s efforts in this critical area of medical research.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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