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Brazil-China Seminar discusses Bioinformatics, Big Data and Precision Medicine


Julia Dias (CCS)


Researchers at the Beijing Institute of Genomics (BIG) have been to Fiocruz for the Brazil-China seminar on Bioinformatics, BigData and Precision Medicine. The event took place in the Auditorium of the Museum of Life, at Manguinhos campus of Fiocruz, on April 17. The activity was promoted by the Bioinformatics Center of the National Laboratory of Scientific Computation (LNCC), in partnership with Fiocruz, the National Institute for Cancer (Inca) and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

At the time, Chinese and Brazilian scientists presented their research and discoveries in several areas of computing with application of large databases in life sciences, especially the area of Genomics, Bioinformatics and Precision Medicine. Among the research presented were studies on resistant bacteria, plasma virions of donors from northern Brazil and advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

"It is an honor to welcome these guests, even more so to discuss this particularly important issue for Fiocruz and public health”, said the president of the Foundation, Nísia Trindade Lima. Fiocruz has had links with Chinese institutions since 2017, when the first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-China). Since then, this cooperation has been strengthened with the signing of two other agreements with Chinese institutions.

On April 15, the LNCC, with whom Fiocruz also has partnerships, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) signed an agreement aimed at strengthening cooperation between the Beijing and Petropolis bioinformatics centers.

BIG is a public institution that is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), with whom Fiocruz has a cooperation agreement since 2018. Inaugurated in 2003, the Institute took part in the International Human Genome Project and has big data and precision medicine projects.

Database designs are managed by the BIG Data Center, which seeks to provide open access to a variety of resources, aimed at transforming large volumes of data into discoveries in the area of life and health sciences.

The director of the Center, Yming Bao, presented some of the institution's projects, such as the Genome Sequence Archive (GSA), a raw genome data repository that accepts submissions from around the world and with free access to the global scientific community; the Database Commons, a catalog of biological databases, ScienceWikis, a catalog of biological knowledge “wiki”, and iDogs, which brings together genomic dog databases.

"In China, we don’t have a culture of data sharing yet, we do not have a policy that encourages sharing, and we still have some technical issues. But we are trying to reverse this by establishing a national data center and creating mechanisms that facilitate sharing”, says Ying Bao. The BIG Data Center is already considered one of the major ones worldwide and cooperates with several countries.

Precision medicine was another subject addressed by the seminar. The technique seeks to use technology to individualize diagnoses and treatments. For participants, this is an area that has potential not only to revolutionize patient care, but also to reduce costs.

In the case of the United States, it is estimated that about 70% of cancer patient spending is to control and mitigate the side effects, which could be reduced with an individualized treatment, illustrates the researcher from the Technological Development Center of Fiocruz (CDTS), Tatiana Tilli. In China, only 20% of drugs used to treat cancer are effective for patients. "That is to say, that about 80% is wasted”, explains Yonbiao Xue.

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