S. Korea to build medical big data highway to foster bio health sector

2019.05.22 14:53:53 | 2019.05.22 16:02:17

President Moon Jae-in speaks during a ceremony in Osong, North Chungcheong on May 22, 2019. [Photo by Lee Chung-woo]이미지 확대

President Moon Jae-in speaks during a ceremony in Osong, North Chungcheong on May 22, 2019. [Photo by Lee Chung-woo]

The South Korean government on Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to foster the bio-health industry as big as the country’s signature memory chips first by sponsoring the establishment of a nationwide network of bio big data to feed drug development and medical applications.

Under the government’s bio health industry innovative strategy plans announced on Wednesday, it will establish five major big data platforms – of national bio, hospitals, novel drug candidate materials, bio patent, and public institutions – and use them as national infrastructure for medical technology research and novel drug development. The plans were unveiled at a strategy proclamation ceremony in Osong, North Chungcheong Province, where President Moon Jae-in was also present.

Moon said the government is all-out to foster the bio-health industry with hopes to boost national economy through innovative growth in new industry sectors.

The move comes after the Moon administration designated system chips, bio health, and future car industries as three growth sectors the government will sponsor. Moon had also attended Samsung Electronics Co.’s system chips vision proclamation ceremony last month at the company’s related facility in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province.

The news sent the biosimilar stocks 1.9 percent higher on Wednesday.

“The time will come when pharmaceutical and life engineering industries will lead our economy,” Moon said on Wednesday. “The government will provide support so that the private sector is able to pursue entrepreneurial spirit.”

Moon said the government will nurture hospitals as base for ecosystem innovation. He also added that it will rationalize regulation equal to that of other global peers and shorten approval period on new technology products.

The government, in particular, will collect medical information of 1 million people, including 400,000 cancer and rare incurable disease patients and 600,000 non-patients including patients’ families, including of their genes, through National Institute of Health by 2029 to build national bio big data.

Patients groups have called for the idea of collecting medical data of actual patients to boost research and find the cause of rare incurable diseases.

President Moon Jae-in, second from right, takes a look at bio medical products and medical devices produced in North Chungcheong Province, before attending the government’s vision proclamation ceremony for bio health sector on Wednesday in Osong, North Chungcheong Province. [Photo by Lee Chung-woo]이미지 확대

President Moon Jae-in, second from right, takes a look at bio medical products and medical devices produced in North Chungcheong Province, before attending the government’s vision proclamation ceremony for bio health sector on Wednesday in Osong, North Chungcheong Province. [Photo by Lee Chung-woo]

The government will receive consent from applicants to use their personal information and collect their medical information including of genes as well as medical use conditions and health status. Their bio data will be stored at National Biobank of Korea and will be used to find the cause of rare incurable diseases and develop personally customized novel drugs and new medical technologies.

The government said that establishing bio big data is similar to building Gyeongbu Expressway in the past that played a pivotal role in Korea’s industrialization.

Medical records of patients at hospitals and their clinical data will also be used to develop novel drugs and new medical technologies, it said. Major hospitals in Korea each possess clinical information of an average 5 million to 6 million patients, which is equal to that of the whole population of countries like Finland (5.56 million).

The government said that it will designate a center hospital for data after reviewing clinical information and data scale and establish medical big data platform on a single hospital base.

The government will also build a big data platform that explores novel drug candidate materials using artificial intelligence technology and predicts potential technologies by analyzing patents of bio-health sector. It also plans to create public big data where medical information of public centers are used on a random basis to boost national health.

By Seo Jin-woo and Lee Eun-joo

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