AJCU Launches COVID-19 Lab and Pharmacogenomic Lab

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On Friday, August 7th, 2020, Atma Jaya Catholic University (AJCU) School of Medicine and Health Science virtually inaugurated a Bio Safety Level 2+ Covid-19 Laboratory and Pharmacogenomic Lab at the Pluit Campus.

The campus dedicated as Center of Health Development is home for four study programs, namely Bachelor of Medicine, Medical Doctor program, Pharmacy, and Master’s in Biomedical degree. These freshly launched labs complete the School’s facility to be the most prominent and contributed School for the society, hoping that faculty members may produce better scientific research. This event also become a highlight on AJCU 60th Anniversary, which brings up the main theme “From Atma Jaya to Indonesia: Transforming Excellent and Compassionate People.”

“The pandemic has opened public and government understanding about the importance of research and the experts’ involvement in formulating public policies. This Lab is our contribution so that the study can be used as a reference for the preparation of a national health strategy.” said Rector of AJCU, Dr. A. Prasetyantoko, congratulating the inauguration ceremony.

The Covid-19 BSL 2+ Lab is equipped with negative pressure and protocols similar to a Level 3 Biosafety; this creates a safe environment for working on a high-risk pathogen and infectious agent. It is an advanced facility compare to its lower version. To help the government handling the pandemic, this Lab agreed to conduct tests on the RT-PCR. The Jakarta Health Agency has trusted this Lab as a referral laboratory handling COVID-19 patient. It shows Atma Jaya’s commitment to actualize Three Pillars of Higher Education for society and government amid the pandemic.

In collaboration with Nalagenetics, the Pharmacogenomic Laboratory intended to conduct the genetic examination to measure the risk of patient’s medicines. In particular, medicines with a narrow margin of safety or long-term medication such as cancer drugs, antiepileptic drugs, blood thinners. Pharmacogenomic (PGx) is a study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. Medication processes often went through a trial-and-error phase that burdened patients both financially or physically; the Pharmacogenomic may help to shorten the process by predicting a drug’s side effects and reduce the risks.

The School’s Dean, Dr dr Yuda Turana Sp.S., explained these advanced Biomedical laboratories path the way towards international scale research. Collaboration with Nalagenetics, a pharmaceutical technology-based company focused on precision medicine, will accelerate the vision. This partnership has conducted collaborative research to validate a PGx diagnostic panel that includes five pharmacologists capable of assessing the genetic effects of various drugs related to cardiovascular, psychiatric, and other chronic diseases. Through this collaboration, these two institutions seek a better understanding of the correlation between different gens with medication efficacy on the Indonesian population.

Based on a report from Singapore, around eight percent of hospitalized patients are due to adverse drug reactions or ADR cases. Research shows that 50% of prescribed medication contributed to patients’ medical records, meaning that some prescribed medication generates undesirable side effects. Such an event can be alerted when a particular variety of gens can figure a side effect of the medicines.

Pharmacogenomic tests look for specific biomarkers associated with drug response. For example, information about a patient’s genetic profile, or their specific metabolic processes, may help medical workers determine which drugs are suitable for their patients. With this information, the effectiveness and accuracy of treatment will increase.

This collaboration will pave the way for the implementation of pharmacogenomics in Indonesia and supports the adoption of this science in clinical practice. Research in this field has also received support from the teaching staff of the Biomedical, Medical, and Pharmacy study program under the Atma Jaya School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

In the virtual inauguration, Head of Atma Jaya Master of Biomedical program Dr.dr. Soegianto Ali, M. Med.Sc said that in addition to collaborative research, this lab facility would also be used by students for practical training activity, especially by Biomedical students. The program itself has three specializations, namely infectious disease, the aging process, and neuroscience.

Virtually present at the event, CEO and Co-Founder of Nalagenetics, Levana Sani BSc MBA said that they are pleased to collaborate with one of the leading medical and health science faculty in Indonesia,

“We are very pleased to share knowledge and skill in pharmacogenomics with Atma Jaya Catholic University. This collaboration can build a future study that is needed by Indonesia in the field of personalized medicine.”

AJCU Alumni and COO and Co-Founder of Nalagenetics Astrid Irwanto, Ph.D., glad to return to campus and collaborate. “It is a pleasure to collaborate with the alma mater. I am grateful for the support by Atma Jaya Catholic University and I look forward to share the impact of personalized medicine in Indonesia together! ”

Nalagenetics and Atma Jaya will also conduct collaborative research in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research collaboration aims to optimize the process of the SARS-CoV-2 genome detection method for diagnostic purposes. The study was to increase the efficiency of the examination by optimizing several stages in the RT-PCR examination for Covid-19. We hope this collaboration will help to enhance science and the use of genetics in health.