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首页 About News Center BGI News Human Health Advancing Public Health in Thailand: The Pioneering Role of Bangkok Genomics Innovation

Advancing Public Health in Thailand: The Pioneering Role of Bangkok Genomics Innovation

June 25, 2024 Views:

In the realm of global health, Thailand stands out with its impressive fifth-place ranking on the Global Health Security (GHS) index, the only non-high-income country that was able to secure a position among the top ten. This achievement is attributed to Thailand's comprehensive health system, which encompasses clinics, hospitals, research institutes, and supporting agencies dedicated to healthcare services and research.

A testament to this robust infrastructure is Bangkok Genomics Innovation Public Company Limited (BKGI), which has taken center stage in revolutionizing Thai healthcare. Since its establishment in September 2017, BKGI, a joint venture between BGI Group's subsidiary BGI Genomics and local partners, has been pivotal in weaving genomics into the fabric of medical diagnostics, heralding a new era of healthcare services in Thailand.

Pioneering Prenatal and Thalassemia Screening

BGI Genomics laid the foundation for this transformation by bringing Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) to Thailand under the "NIFTY" brand in 2012. This innovative testing method assesses the risk of fetal genetic abnormalities by analyzing DNA fragments in a pregnant woman's bloodstream.

“Testing technology must be accessible and useful to everyone,” said Dr. Saowalak Dansakul, Director, Chief Executive Officer of BKGI, “BGI is the first brand to provide NIPT services in Thailand. It's been more than 10 years since BGI came to Thailand. Both BGI and BKGI have a shared mission and vision to provide Thai people access to international standard genetic testing.” 

In 2014, BGI Genomics partnered with local entities to establish the NIFTY joint laboratory in Bangkok, significantly reducing the turnaround time for local test reports.

A milestone was achieved in 2016 when BGI Genomics and the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University co-published Thailand's first research paper on NIPT, demonstrating NIPT’s excellent performance as screening tests for the detection of fetal trisomies 21, 18, and 13 in Thailand.

The 2020 launch of the BGI Genomics’ Whole Genome Sequencing joint laboratory further expanded clinical genetic testing services to Thai hospitals and clinics, enhancing the quality and efficiency of the testing process. The laboratory had received ISO15189:2012 and ISO15190:2003 certifications for its NIFTY testing capability, reaffirming its commitment to international health check standards.

Today, “providing health check services to international standards already our main policy,” explained Mr. Porntep Tanyut, Chief Operating Officer of BKGI.

BKGI has also expanded its clinical testing services to cover other stages of pregnancy, addressing a range of genetic diseases and conditions to identify underlying medical factors.

Beyond prenatal care, BKGI is tackling prevalent rare diseases like thalassemia. Thalassemia poses a significant health challenge in Thailand, with an estimated 30-40% of the population carrying the gene. 

Recognizing this, BKGI has partnered with BGI Genomics, the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital at Mahidol University, and Hemogen Hong Kong Alpha Technology Co., Ltd., to enhance thalassemia prevention and treatment. 

Battling Cancer

Another formidable health challenge facing Thailand is cancer. Early detection and screening are critical tools in cancer prevention, and in response, the National Health Security Office (NHSO) of Thailand supports genetic testing for patients with cancer.

Colorectal cancer is now among the top five most prevalent cancers in the country and is ranked as the third most common cancer globally, with its incidence on the rise in Asia. BKGI, recognizing the urgency of addressing this threat, has forged partnerships with both international and local entities to bolster the fight against cancer. 

In March 2023, BKGI signed a cooperation memorandum with BGI Group and Innobic (Asia), aiming to advance colorectal cancer screening services through BGI Genomics’ COLOTECT™ test. This tripartite agreement seeks to enhance early detection in Thailand, aiming to lower detection rates of advanced colorectal cancer and strengthen the nation's cancer prevention and control strategies.

Collaborative efforts are underway, with BGI and Chulalongkorn University conducting a prospective colorectal cancer screening study using COLOTECT™. The study plans to administer fecal occult blood tests, fecal DNA tests, and colonoscopies to 1,000 patients on the colonoscopy waitlist to gather comprehensive data on early detection. Over 600 samples have been tested thus far by the Clinical Research Center of Chulalongkorn University, with participation from five hospitals.

Additionally, BGI has partnered with the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital at Mahidol University to conduct retrospective studies on colorectal cancer screening.

Alongside the fight against colorectal cancer, Thailand faces a significant challenge of breast and ovarian cancer - the most and the sixth most common cancers among Thai women, respectively. Genetic testing has been strongly advocated as a diagnostic tool for patients with inherited cancer susceptibility in Thailand and the broader Asian population. In a landmark move in 2023, the Ministry of Health of Thailand launched free genetic screening services for breast cancer patients and their families. Supporting this initiative, BGI established a joint laboratory for genetic tumor screening with the National Institute of Health under the Ministry of Health to provide testing services to affected patients and their families.

Beyond diagnosis, BKGI's genetic testing technology plays a vital role in post-treatment monitoring, enabling personalized medicine and care tailored to individual patient needs, thereby enhancing the quality and effectiveness of healthcare for those battling cancer.

Research Collaborations

The advancement of public health initiatives in Thailand is heavily reliant on scientific research collaborations with local academic institutions. BGI Genomics and BKGI have established partnerships with around 13 universities and research institutes, engaging in vital research areas such as thalassemia, cancer, and the intestinal microbiome.

On cancer research, BKGI is actively involved in a research collaboration with Burapha University, focusing on the gut microbiota's role in early colorectal cancer screening. In partnership with Mahidol University, BKGI is conducting a retrospective study to evaluate early screening methods against the standard colonoscopy for colorectal cancer. Prospective studies with Chulalongkorn University are underway to compare the effectiveness of fecal occult blood tests and colonoscopies in early colorectal cancer detection.

For thalassemia, BKGI's collaborations with Thailand's Ministry of Health and Mahidol University are leveraging BGI's advanced gene screening technology to assess detection rates, effectiveness, and accuracy against traditional Thai screening methods. BGI Group is also collaborating with Professor Dr. Sakorn Pornprasert’s faculty at Chiang Mai University to conduct a comparative study on the performance of Thailand’s current screening method versus BGI’s screening technology for thalassemia.

“Relying on the strong scientific research and development capability of BGI Group, BKGI rapidly expands in Thailand, bringing advanced genetic technology to Thailand and benefiting the Thai people,” said Mr. Xiaohan Wang, Director, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of BKGI.


The impressive strides made by BKGI in the field of genomics and healthcare exemplify Thailand's commitment to elevating its healthcare services to international standards. 

Embracing the mission of “Omics for All,” BKGI is not only addressing immediate health concerns such as thalassemia and cancer but also paving the way for a future where precision medicine is commonplace in Thailand, through strategic partnerships, innovative technologies, and a focus on research and development.

As the company continues to grow and contribute to the country's global health security standing, BKGI reinforces the vision that accessible, high-quality healthcare can be a reality for all Thais.


“โรคโลหิตจางธาลัสซีเมีย” โรคทางพันธุกรรมที่น่าเป็นห่วงในประเทศไทย


GHS Index: 2021 GHS Index Country Profile for Thailand


Breast Cancer Research and Treatment: Thai patients who fulfilled NCCN criteria for breast/ovarian cancer genetic assessment demonstrated high prevalence of germline mutations in cancer susceptibility genes: implication to Asian population testing


Prenatal Diagnosis: Clinical experience from Thailand: noninvasive prenatal testing as screening tests for trisomies 21, 18 and 13 in 4736 pregnancies


BGI Genomics: Advancing Thalassemia Prevention and Treatment in Thailand | BGI Update