KUCHING: Malaysia has the potential to become a world-class hub for clinical research due to its genomic diversity, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
He said Malaysia’s multi-ethnic population would benefit clinical trials seeking to understand the effectiveness of a new therapy across a diverse Asian population.
“There is no other country which has arguably one-third of the global genomic profile.
“One third of the world is either Chinese or Indian and we have that here, and then we have a huge other chunk which is Malay.
“The experts tell me this is sound science because genetic differences make a difference as far as the efficacy of the treatment is concerned,” he said.
Khairy was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM), Novartis Malaysia and the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here yesterday.
He said Malaysia also had some of the best principal investigators in the world, including at SGH.
In addition, he said Malaysia was relatively low-cost for clinical research and trials, while the time to trial in Malaysia was one of the fastest in the world.
“This has resulted in Malaysia being the number two country in South-East Asia for the number of industry-sponsored clinical trials.
“I’ve given CRM the challenge of becoming number one within the next three years,” he said.
With the MOU, Khairy said SGH would become Novartis’ preferred site for clinical research, making it a centre of excellence in the country catering to different phases of clinical trials.
“By having this site established in Sarawak, not only will the health equality gap in Sarawak be addressed, but also Malaysia can leverage by attracting talent ranging from medical specialists to researchers who would be encouraged to work in this region,” he added.
Separately, Khairy declined to comment on the possibility of contesting in Seremban in the 15th General Election (GE).
“Tak payah lah (there’s no need),” he told a press conference after the MOU signing in response to a question about DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke’s prediction of a fierce battle in Seremban should he stand there.
Loke said Seremban would be one of the hottest seats in GE15 if Khairy were to contest there.
Loke, who is Seremban MP, was commenting on a proposal by Seremban Umno Youth that Khairy stand there.
Khairy had said on Sunday that he was prepared to give up his Rembau parliamentary seat to division chief and Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, adding that in the worst-case scenario he would not contest in the coming election.– The Star