A*STAR, NHCS, NUS, and Novo Nordisk partner to study the mechanisms underlying heart failure

The Genome Institute (GIS) and the Bioinformatics Institute (BII) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), as well as the National Heart Center Singapore (NHCS), l National University of Singapore (NUS) and pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk have signed an agreement to study the mechanisms underlying the progression of cardiovascular disease; especially the condition called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

Heart disease is a leading cause of death globally and in Singapore. While HFpEF is a growing public health concern, particularly as a cause of severe debility in the growing elderly population in Singapore, therapies to improve patient outcomes are still lacking. In addition, compared to Western populations, Asians have a younger age of onset of heart failure. The research collaboration is focused on understanding the underlying biology of patients with HFpEF in Asia and conducting in-depth biomarker studies that lead to the segmentation of these patients according to their pathologies, and in order to advance the development of therapies for heart failure.

The project builds on large, well-phenotyped cohorts of patients with heart failure from the Asian Network for Cardiovascular Translational Research and Trials (ATTRaCT), an A*STAR-led translational cardiovascular research program that integrates the efforts of basic, translational and clinical scientists from several institutes across Singapore.

Specifically, the project will support the integration of clinical imaging, as well as molecular and clinical biological phenotypes; and advancing the development of new treatments for heart failure.

GIS and NHCS conduct cellular studies to dissect disease mechanisms using patient-specific cells, while NUS performs additional complex proteomic analysis on biological samples from ATTRaCT patients. BII serves as the data repository for aggregated ATTRaCT datasets from multiple institutions, providing project parties with access to and analysis of multiple types of data. This includes providing computing requirements to industrial and academic researchers, and the administrative role of ensuring good governance over data usage.

Professor Roger Foo, Program Leader of ATTRaCT, Senior Group Leader of the Molecular Epigenomics and Chromatin Organization Laboratory at A*STAR GIS and Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Translational Research Program at NUS Medicine , said, “We are honored to be part of the collaboration which will draw on the multidisciplinary efforts of scientists from A*STAR and NUS, as well as contributions from physicians from hospitals across Singapore. The results of the collaboration will provide informative information on genetic and cellular biomarkers associated with HFpEF, and will support the development of new diagnostic tools to target therapies for Asian patients with cardiovascular disease. Research into HFpEF is urgently needed because it is a condition of growing public health importance, and yet, to date, there is no effective therapy.

Professor Carolyn Lam, Founding Program Manager of ATTRaCT and Senior Consultant to the Department of Cardiology at NHCS, said: “Through a partnership between leading clinical and research institutions in Singapore, ATTRaCT has described a novel lean diabetic phenotype of HFpEF, unique in our Asian region, we are now very excited to deepen our understanding of the disease and develop potential new treatments for our patients.”

Professor Mark Richards, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at NUS, said: “This partnership enables in-depth and sophisticated exploration of blood signals in heart failure. It opens the door to new ways to detect and understand this common and dangerous condition with the prospect of new tests and treatments benefiting Singapore from both a health and economic perspective.”

Dr. Karin Conde-Knape, Senior Vice President of Novo Nordisk, said, “We are excited about this new collaboration. At Novo Nordisk, we always seek to partner with the best in the world and believe that collaborating with leading research centers in Singapore will help us identify new therapeutic targets and biomarkers to address unmet medical needs in the field of cardiovascular disease for the benefit of patients worldwide. »


Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

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