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Indonesia Builds Genomics Research Centre for Genome Sequencing

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest country by population is made up of an archipelago of roughly 900 permanently populated islands in tropical Asia, and it is home to an incredible range of human diversity that is most often underrepresented in modern biological surveys.

At the Cibinong Science Centre in West Java, the National Research, and Innovation Agency (BRIN) has developed a genomics facility that will be used for whole-genome sequencing, life science research, and environmental research.

The genomic research building, which spans 9,300 square metres and will be useful to support research operations, particularly in the field of life sciences, according to BRIN’s director. Cibinong Science Centre has several facilities and infrastructure in place to facilitate research in areas such as molecular biology.

Although the Cibinong Science Centre’s research facility has mostly concentrated on biodiversity study, it shares certain commonalities with the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology’s research on health and humans. Many research facilities and researchers at Cibinong Science Centre are working on significant projects, including the biotechnology research centre, the biodiversity centre, and the Indonesian Culture Collection (InaCC) for microbes.

The genomic facility developed by BRIN is now complete, according to BRIN’s acting deputy for research and innovation infrastructure. Some laboratory equipment, such as a 50-litre capacity fermenter that may be utilised for research and development of the COVID-19 vaccine, has already arrived and will be installed soon.

“While the electricity infrastructure is planned to be installed next week,” the deputy for research and innovation infrastructure informed. BRIN, as the government agency for science innovation and research, has been advancing its work by providing facilities in many fields of research, he said. One of them is developing innovations in the livestock sector to support productivity, he added.

According to him, the organisation is also focusing on disease mitigation studies, such as malaria, and coming up with ideas for how to use technology to improve the nation’s preparedness for natural catastrophes. In addition, Indonesian scientists hope to sequence 10,000 COVID-19 samples this year to find virus variations that may be circulating across the broad island.

The health minister and Minister of Research and Technology (RISTEK) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) earlier this year to collaborate on “genomic surveillance,” which is the process of identifying virus variants by sequencing genetic materials collected from infected patients.

According to a report released by the World Health Organisation, the number of new cases is continuing to decline globally, but variations have spread to more than 100 nations. Data published by an open-access global database for virus genomes had stated, more than 82,000 cases of the new U.K. strain had been found in 85 countries. In 42 nations, the South African variety had infected 1,440 persons. The longer the disease is allowed to spread, the more likely it is to evolve into versions that are resistant to the vaccines that are being rolled out at varying rates around the world.

Between the signing of the MoU and now, 392 whole-genome sequences from 27 provinces in Indonesia have been submitted. At least 14 institutions have contributed, as per the chairman of the National Institute of Health Research and Development, each of which has capable individuals and cutting-edge technologies for genetic research.

“The more the data we have, the more information we can get about the strains of the SARS-2 virus in Indonesia,” he said. This year, the Eijkman Institute of Molecular Biology in Jakarta intends to sequence 5,000 samples, whereas it is aimed for 10,000 samples from all collaborating universities.

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