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The promise of tailoring medicines to a person's genetic makeup has captured the imagination of healthcare professionals. Now, researchers are trying to introduce it to one of the world's biggest health markets — China.

In this article, Matt Young reports on how biotechnology companies are starting to investigate the potential for testing and marketing personalised drugs in China.

Private companies are developing cheap 'DNA chips' to screen people for genes that should show how well they would react to a particular drug, or how high a dose they might need.

And, as a Chinese biotechnologist points out, drugs that the US does not consider to be effective enough for its population might work in Asians.

But international pharmaceutical companies say they would be reluctant to develop a drug exclusively for the Chinese market.

In addition, the companies are shying away from developing China-specific drugs because of the country's lack of adequate patent protection.

Despite these obstacles, the time is ripe to pursue personalised medicine in China, says one Beijing scientist. Because many parts of the country are untouched by immigration, geneticists could find it easier to pinpoint a disease-causing gene, he says.

Link to full article in Asia Times Online

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