Saliva-based COVID-19 test kit
A team of clinician scientists and researchers from Singapore General Hospital (SGH), National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), Duke-NUS Medical School and National University of Singapore (NUS) collaborated to develop a saliva-based Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kit, dubbed the Parallel Amplified Saliva rapid POint-of-caRe Test (PASPORT). PASPORT uses nanoparticles in two stages. In the first stage, a set of nanoparticles binds to the virus to create the red test line. In the second stage, additional nanoparticles will bind to the first set, amplifying the “signal”, even if the viral load is low. By employing ACE2 proteins in the testing, PASPORT is more sensitive than other lateral flow tests to new virus variants. The technology for PASPORT has been commercially licensed and the ART kits are set to enter the market.
Rare CYP39A1 variants associated with exfoliation syndrome involving the anterior chamber of the eye
A team of researchers from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and A*STAR have identified a genetic mutation associated with exfoliation syndrome - a systemic disorder characterised by the progressive accumulation of abnormal fibrillar substance in the anterior chamber of the eye - the most common cause of glaucoma and a major cause of irreversible blindness. This multi-centre, whole-exome sequencing study involved 20,441 participants from 14 countries across Asia, Europe, and Africa, including more than 1,200 Singaporeans. The presence of exfoliation syndrome was significantly associated with functionally deficient CYP39A1 sequence variants. The findings can pave the way for future research on the cause of exfoliation syndrome and potential cures.
Iron therapy can help heart failure patients with low iron to recover
Researchers from the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) and partners in Europe, the Middle East and South America jointly conducted a multinational clinical trial known as AFFIRM-AHF. Intravenous iron and placebos were randomly given to 1,100 patients aged 18 years or older who were hospitalised for acute heart failure and iron deficiency. Results from the clinical trials showed that the treatment is safe, and giving iron intravenously can significantly reduce mortality and hospitalisation. These findings have been translated into recommendations for clinical practice in NHCS, where specific guidelines are implemented to identify and treat iron deficiency in patients with heart failure.
NCCS recognised as leading Asian cancer research centre
NCCS was recognised as a leading force in Asian cancer research with regional appointments and awards this past year. Professor William Hwang, Chief Executive Officer, NCCS, was elected as Regional Vice-President Elect, Asia, for the International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy in June 2021. He will lead the translation of cell and gene therapies into safe and effective clinical applications to improve lives of patients in Singapore and the region. Professor Teh Bin Tean, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Research), NCCS, received the Japanese Cancer Association International Award in October 2021 for his dedication to research in cancer genetics and advancing the field of Asian cancer genomics.
Advancing metabolic health in women and children
Singapore’s first Integrated Platform for Research in Advancing Metabolic Health Outcomes in Women and Children (IPRAMHO), based in KKH, launched two evidence-based, integrated 24-hour activity guidelines for children of all ages. The guidelines developed by KKH aimed to prevent and reduce the risks of metabolic diseases in children and women by optimising the continuum of care from pregnancy to childbirth, infancy to childhood, and adolescent to adult.
The activity guidelines for children under seven years of age set a strong foundation for healthy lifestyle behaviours and good long-term health outcomes in young children; while the activity guidelines for children and adolescents aged seven to 18 years of age aim to standardise advice on physical activities, screen time, eating habits and sleep, to improve health and promote the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits.
Predicting coronary artery disease
A comparison of three predictive models was used to assess the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) and its association with anxiety disorders amongst patients presenting with chest pain in a primary healthcare setting. PRECISE (Predictive Risk scorE for CAD In Southeast Asians with chEst pain) was developed and validated a diagnostic prediction model for CAD. The study on PRECISE was conducted by SHP in collaboration with NHCS, Duke-NUS Medical School, and National Healthcare Group Polyclinics. PRECISE has demonstrated utility as a clinical decision support for diagnosing CAD for major ethnic groups in Southeast Asia.