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Posted: May 13, 2008
Indonesia gets first nanotechnology center
(Nanowerk News) The country's first private nanotechnology center was opened in Tangerang on Monday, with a pledge to develop treatments to prevent cancer.
The Mochtar Riady Institute of Nanotechnology (MRIN), inaugurated by businessman Mochtar Riady and members of the institute's scientific advisory board including former president B.J. Habibie, was founded to conduct innovative research on cancer.
The MRIN, which directly works with Siloam Hospitals, is currently undertaking a study to discover the association genotype and mutation of the hepatitis B and C viruses and the development of these diseases into liver cancer, as well as on the immune response of certain biomarkers for developing immunotherapy interventions strategic in cancer treatment.
Joe B. Harford, a cancer researcher for the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said cancer killed more people worldwide than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
"Shifting population demographics and changing lifestyles are pushing more of the world's cancer burden onto low and middle-income countries. By 2030, approximately 70 percent of cancer deaths will fall in those countries," he said Sunday during a two-day symposium organized by the MRIN.
It is estimated cancer kills more than six million people per year worldwide, with more than 10 million new cases diagnosed annually.
Hepatocellular carcinoma, which can be triggered by the hepatitis viruses, is one of the most common cancers in the world and accounts for an estimated 600,000 deaths annually.
In 2005, Indonesia had 4,572 cases of hepatitis C and 884 cases of hepatitis B.
MRIN president Susan S.W. Tai said nanotechnology was important for cancer research because of the nature of the disease.
"More than 80 percent of human diseases are genetic. Cancer is also a genetic problem of the cells. It's related to each individual gene's expression pattern. That is why nanotechnology is being applied to the medical field," she said.
The MRIN, which has been in preparation since 2006, has begun conducting research on cancer prevention, its causes and early diagnosis, as well as control and cures, to advance medical and scientific research in the field of oncology. The institute is primarily focused on studies related to hepatocellular carcinoma with the aim of improving control and management of the disease in Indonesia.
The MRIN consists of five core divisions: the molecular epidemiology division, which studies the variation of viruses; the proteomic division to develop technology for diagnosing cancer; the SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms) division to develop genetic screening for cancer predisposition; the immunology division to understand the nature of tumors; and the genomic division to support other divisions in respect to interesting genes.
To maintain its efforts in cancer prevention, MRIN will work in cooperation with local medical institutions, including departments at the University of Indonesia and Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital in Jakarta, and international institutions, including the Shanghai Cancer Institute and the Southeast University of Nanjing.