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Vol 24, No. 03, March 2020For e-subscribers (PDF)
Placing Singapore at the forefront of global microRNA research and application

Front runners Singapore-based biotech company, MiRXES, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) launch three initiatives in Singapore for translating microRNA research into clinical applications.

This year, 2020 marks the tenth year of collaboration with MiRXES and NUS and DxD Hub for microRNA (miRNA) research and clinical translation in Singapore. The Singapore-based biotech start-up, MiRXES first spun-off from A*STAR in 2014 to develop miRNA technology and diagnostics.

The mentioned organizations together led a non-coding RNA (ncRNA) symposium, held in January 2020 to provide a platform for international experts to present ground-breaking research in miRNA-based therapeutics and diagnostics. A ncRNA roundtable was also conducted to layout strategy for miRNA clinical translation and Working Group for miRNA standards providing the world’s first national standard for miRNA-based diagnostics by 2020.

“There is growing scientific evidence that non-coding RNA molecules such as miRNAs have the potential to change the way we diagnose and treat diseases in the near future,” said Prof Slack.

“Bringing academic researchers, clinicians, industry players, and government regulators together in such discussions will help in accelerating adoption of clinically-validated miRNA-based diagnostics and therapeutics,” said Dr. Zhou.

“We’re proud of the progress that the biomedical industry and homegrown enterprises such as MiRXES have made in the field of miRNA research. We look forward to more public-private partnerships that will accelerate the development of new diagnostics to establish Singapore as a global hub for diagnostic innovation and development, and address the burden of unmet clinical needs,” said Dr. Yee.

The inaugural symposium marked the tenth year milestone of translational miRNA research since the first publication in 2010 of the scientific method that is the basis of the MiRXES technology platform.

A crucial component in advancing the development of new miRNA-based diagnostics is ensuring reliability and standardization of products. To fulfil this aim, the Working Group for miRNA standards was set up by the Singapore Standards Council. The Working Group comprises of representatives from MiRXES, DxD Hub, Health Sciences Authority "(HSA)", academia, industrial, and clinical sectors.

“The development of this standard will ensure quality consistency in the collection, handling and isolation of miRNAs from human samples.” Said Dr. Yong Chern Chet, Chair of the Biomedical and Health Standards Committee, Singapore Standards Council.

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