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SA a step closer to roll out of precision medicine

Medical experts say understanding a nation's genetic make-up enables scientists to develop medicine which targets its specific health challenges.

Samples in a lab fridge. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN – A collaboration with the Beijing Genomics Institute is set to boost the provision of precision medicine in South Africa.

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has teamed up with the institute to establish a research facility at its Cape Town facility.

Medical experts say this venture is a positive step towards understanding the genetic composition of the population.

Understanding a nation's genetic make-up enables scientists to develop medicine which targets its specific health challenges.

The SAMRC and the Beijing Genomics Institute signed a memorandum of understanding that may result in a Whole Genomic Sequencing facility being rolled out in Cape Town.

Programme Manager Rizwana Mia says the agreement holds many benefits for the country's health sector.

“To move towards precision medicine, which is were healthcare is going to, you would have to be able understand your population’s genetics in order for you to accurately diagnose and treat patients based on their genetic information as well as their biochemical information.”

Genome sequencing is the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism's genome at a single time.

This provides information on the genetic basis of diseases and allows physicians to apply preventative medical techniques.