Mahidol inks deal to boost cancer fight

Mahidol inks deal to boost cancer fight

Tissue share with NCIT to aid research

Mahidol University and the National Cancer Institute of Thailand (NCIT) on Wednesday signed an MoU to cooperate in the sharing and storing of cancer patients' tissue and blood samples at the university's Biobank.

Biobank is a state of the art storage facility keeping tissue and blood samples for research purposes. It is located at the Faculty of Medicine at the university's Ramathibodi Hospital.

Piyamitr Sritara, the Faculty dean, told a press briefing that the cooperation will help boost research into precision medicines for treating cancers.

Precision medicine involves analysing the genetic and molecular details of a patient's disease to come up with a tailor-made treatment to match that individual's needs.

In order to gather as much data as possible, Ramathibodi Comprehensive Tumor Biobank was developed in 2012, with the purpose of storing cancer tissue and blood samples in a controlled -80C environment.

These samples will be used by researchers to understand how cancer cells develop and to locate tumor markers in a bit to find a treatment.

Currently, there are tissue and blood samples from 2,000 cancer patients at the Biobank, which expects to acquire more from cooperating with the NCIT, according to Dr Piyamitr.

Most of the tissue samples come from patients with breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer. All samples are stored with the patient's consent and must meet specific requirements for research purposes. The university will also focus on studying optic nerve cancer in children because there is very little knowledge about this rare form of cancer, Dr Piyamitr said.

"We hope that we can gather much more data on cancers by obtaining more samples with the help of our partner. Precision medicine can't be applied in all cases, but this is a very good step towards further research and development," Dr Piyamitr said.

He said the university also plans to boost cooperation with Phramongkutklao and Rajavithi hospitals.

Weerawut Imsamran, director of NCIT told reporters that precision medical treatment improves the quality of treatment and the chances of recovery.

There are around 10 state-owned hospitals providing precision medicine to cancer patients and the institute expects to see more offering this treatment soon.

Of 122,757 cancer cases recorded in Thailand since 1998, 73,000 people have died, according to the Public Health Ministry's Department of Medical Services.

Cancer is the number one killer disease in Thailand and the most expensive to treat. Other deadly diseases include coronary heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

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