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Singapore company among the ten winners of Falling Wall Breakthrough of the Year 2020, Science Start-up

SINGAPORE | 06 November 2020

Singapore single cell precision medicine company Proteona has been selected as one of the ten winners of Falling Walls Breakthrough of the Year 2020 under the category of Science Start-ups. Proteona takes a powerful research tool, single cell multi-omics, into the clinics to improve precision medicine.

Cancer is a leading cause of death, costing 9.6 million lives per year worldwide. While cancer treatment has advanced rapidly and the pharmaceutical industry invests more than $50 billion annually in oncology R&D, cancer remains notoriously difficult to treat. One reason for that is tumour heterogeneity: every tumour cell is unique and responds differently to treatment. Tumour cells that survive a treatment can later expand, causing the cancer to come back. Proteona targets tumour heterogeneity by making simultaneous multi-omics measurements of thousands of individual cells making up each tumour. For each sample, Proteona collects tens of millions of data points per patient sample on important features including mutations, mRNA expression, and protein expression. Proteona then uses artificial intelligence to integrate the data and devise a plan for how to kill as many cancer cells as possible.

“One key application of our technology is in the field of blood cancers. We have seen first-hand the battles patients have gone through and these patients have touched us profoundly,” Said Dr Andreas Schmidt, the CEO of Proteona. “It is also an area that we see how our technology can help make a clinical impact. Treatment selection is a major challenge especially for relapsed cases. By analysing the molecular features and drug response profile of individual cells, Proteona can suggest treatment plans that best target the unique tumour make up of individual patients. Everyone on the team of Proteona has a single objective: To improve patients’ clinical outcome using the best science available.”

“I would like give my heart-felt congratulations to Proteona for winning this prestigious award,” Said Professor Subramanian Venkatraman, the executive director of the Industry Liaison Office of the National University of Singapore. “We have witnessed the speed how Proteona grew from a scientific innovation to what it is today, tearing down walls in medicine and impacting cancer treatment.”

Proteona has earlier this year been selected as a “One to Watch” in the Spinoff Prize by Nature Research in Partnership with Merck.

An interview with Proteona was broadcasted today by Falling Walls, followed by an interactive Q&A session with participants worldwide.

Proteona’s video presentation is available on the Falling Walls Remove 2020 website, which explains why Proteona embarked on the mission of breaking the wall of cancer, and how they are going to do that. It talks about

  • The current challenges in targeted cancer therapy and precision medicine
  • Why tumor heterogeneity or diversity makes cancer so difficult to treat
  • How we tackle the problem by combining single cell multi-omics and artificial intelligence-assisted analysis
  • What we are doing to help multiple myeloma and other cancer patients.
  • Our plan to break the wall of cancer, one cell at a time

The Falling Walls Conference is one of the most important world science summits and highlights the latest scientific and social breakthroughs. It first took place on 9th November 2009, 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since then, it features the top innovations in all fields of science around the world, showcasing how innovation can make a positive impact. The Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the year celebrates outstanding science with the potential to change the world. This year, more than 900 nominations from 111 countries have been received for ten categories, which are: Life Sciences; Physical Sciences; Engineering and Technology; Social Sciences and the Humanities; Science in the Arts; Digital Education; Science and Innovation Management; Emerging Talents; Science Start-ups and Science Engagement.

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