Asia-Pacific Biotech News

Tan Tock Seng Hospital Partners with Thermo Fisher Scientific to Boost Precision Medicine Capabilities

First microarray-based solution in Singapore to enable multi-gene panel testing for pharmacogenomics and disease risk assessment.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) is partnering with Thermo Fisher Scientific to deliver advanced multiple-gene testing to facilitate clinical research for the future prediction, prevention and research of diseases, as well as to better understand adverse responses to medication and therapeutics, a field of study called pharmacogenomics (PGx).

By examining the role genes play in a person’s response to medication, PGx testing can help clinicians make more informed decisions when evaluating suitable treatments for patients in the future.

As a pioneer of PGx testing in Singapore, TTSH already offers reactive single-gene pharmacogenetic and small-panel tests. However, the results only apply to one drug (or a group of related drugs) per gene tested, which leads to multiple genes tests being ordered to determine broader drug-gene associations and potentially unnecessary higher costs. The partnership with Thermo Fisher enables simultaneous assessment of multiple genes and the implementation of polygenic risk scores (PRS) — a measure of disease risk based on an individual’s genetic information. These capabilities reduce the need for multiple tests and may reduce associated costs from single-gene testing.

The collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific to expand TTSH’s Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory (MDL) test repertoire may also facilitate future development of innovative population health solutions to help manage cardiometabolic diseases, for example, driven by population-level genomic research data. MDL and TTSH clinicians will conduct a first-of-its-kind, three-year research trial in 2024 to assess the efficacy of using PRS to predict heart disease in the local population. The PRS methodology may also be applied to assess other conditions, including cancer, stroke, and mental health.

Implementing PGx and PRS to drive precision medicine marks a crucial step toward realizing Singapore’s Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2025 vision, which is focused on enacting a preventative healthcare approach to align with the country’s healthcare reform plan, Healthier SG. Ultimately, genetic testing at this scale could play a key role to augment Singapore’s healthcare industry’s ability to improve health outcomes for Singaporeans.

“With the power of accessing genome information, we have the opportunity to advance precision medicine. We envision a future in which the capability to stratify patients based on risks of developing a certain disease will allow individuals to exercise early intervention and ultimately lead to healthier lives, and in some cases, avoid hefty costs associated with managing disease. This will not only deliver value to patients but also bring us one step closer toward realizing Singapore’s goal of shifting from sick care to preventative healthcare and offer a sustainable way to serve the evolving healthcare needs of Singaporeans,” said Dr Goh Liuh Ling, Senior Principal Scientific Officer, Department of Personalised Medicine, TTSH.

Fadjar Linawati, Commercial Director, Genetic Sciences, South-East Asia & Taiwan, Thermo Fisher Scientific, said: “The global understanding and practice of medicine is undergoing a revolutionary change. This shift to precision medicine means moving healthcare from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more targeted, personalized approach whereby decisions are informed by individuals’ unique clinical, molecular and lifestyle information. By working closely with Tan Tock Seng Hospital, we hope to advance this revolution in clinical research and future treatment and care for patients while helping Singapore realize its vision of meeting its long-term healthcare needs in a sustainable and cost-effective way.”

The MDL team and TTSH pharmacists are organizing educational programs for clinicians and patients to raise awareness of the advancements in precision medicine. The laboratory will also serve as a training ground to develop local talent in navigating the new transformative healthcare approaches. [APBN]

Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific