The first project will explore regenerative cell therapy to treat blood cancers, heart failure and eye degeneration
Regenerative medicine is a fast-growing area of medical research that looks at restoring, repairing or replacing damaged cells, tissue or organs in the body. It is particularly relevant for conditions such as cancer, heart disease, eye degeneration and neurological diseases. With a rapidly ageing population, where almost one in two of the population in Singapore will be at least 65 years of age by 20501, regenerative medicine is expected to have a significant impact in reducing the burden of disease here. One of the most promising approaches in regenerative medicine is cell therapy – the transplantation of healthy cells, such as stem cells, into a patient’s body to cure or treat disease. The joint launch of REMEDIS and SDCT will allow the seamless transfer of knowledge and outcomes for cellular regeneration, with a common goal towards disease management.
REMEDIS will harness the potential of regenerating diseased cells, tissue and even organs to develop research, regenerative therapies and tools to tackle age-related diseases and chronic conditions. The focus will be on seven disease areas: musculoskeletal diseases, bone marrow disorders, blood disorders, cardiovascular diseases, acute and chronic wound healing, neuro-sensory diseases and eye diseases. SDCT will bridge the gap by taking these cellular and gene regenerative therapies and tools into clinical trials and translate them into clinical applications that can benefit patients.
Professor Ivy Ng, Group CEO, SingHealth said, “Many diseases do not yet have a cure, and often, the damage to the body from these conditions cannot be reversed. Regenerative medicine has been developing at an exponential rate globally, with more than 1,100 clinical trials worldwide currently showing promising results. The establishment of REMEDIS and SDCT will give us the opportunity to harness this cutting-edge science to develop novel clinical applications that will offer better health and overall quality of life.”
Professor Thomas Coffman, Dean, Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS), said, “The fields of cell therapy and regenerative medicine are game-changers, with the potential to improve the lives of millions of people who are suffering from chronic diseases or disorders related to ageing, and bring hope to those waiting on long organ transplant lists. With the establishment of REMEDIS and SDCT, we are combining the clinical expertise of SingHealth with Duke-NUS’ scientific firepower to drive impactful translational research that will lead to safe and effective new treatments that can be produced on a large scale.”
Ramping-up research in regenerative cell therapy
With support from the National Research Foundation (NRF), Singapore, REMEDIS will start off with a research study led by clinician-scientists from the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC to develop cellular therapy products for three disease areas – age-related macular degeneration, ischemic cardiomyopathy and blood cancers. Due to the limitations of existing therapies, the research team is working toward safe and effective treatments for patients affected by these conditions.
For example, the current treatment for patients with blood cancers is chemotherapy or haematopoietic stem cell transplants. However, these treatment methods can lead to a low concentration of white blood cells or blood platelets in the body, which can be life-threatening. To address this, the team has identified a new way to generate mega doses of high-quality haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in patients, which could expedite the recovery process.
Professor William Hwang, Head of SDCT, Co-director of REMEDIS, Medical Director of the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and principal investigator of the study said, “Using the latest advancements in cellular and regenerative medicine, we are developing strategies to regenerate and transplant bone marrow, cardiac muscles and retina cells and hope to improve treatment outcomes for these debilitating conditions. Once we have developed the cellular therapy products, we will study their safety and efficacy through clinical trials in SDCT’s network. Our first study is one will that will fully exploit the bench to bedside pipeline that we intended with the establishment of REMEDIS and SDCT.”
Director of REMEDIS, Principal Lead (Regenerative Medicine) of SDCT and Deputy Director (Research), NCCS, Prof Teh Bin Tean, shared, “The possibilities for application of cellular and regenerative medicine are limitless and REMEDIS and SDCT will continue to study new areas to improve health. Areas we will explore in the future include wound healing, trauma and chronic disease management.”
The inaugural SDCT-REMEDIS Cell Therapy Conference
The SDCT-REMEDIS Cell Therapy Conference, held from 21 to 22 May 2021, will showcase a rich line-up of leaders in cell-based immunotherapy and regenerative medicine who will share recent developments in their fields to improve patient diagnostics, therapeutics and care outcomes. Presenters include clinicians, scientists, collaborators from healthcare institutions, academia, industry and regulatory bodies who will provide valuable insight in their areas of expertise.
1 Singapore Population White Paper 2013
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About SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre
The SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) draws on the collective strengths of SingHealth and Duke-NUS Medical School to provide our patients and community with the best outcomes and experience.
By leveraging the synergies in clinical care, research and education created through our Academic Clinical Programmes, Disease Centres and Joint Institutes, the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC fosters the exchange of scientific knowledge and clinical perspectives to accelerate innovation and new discoveries, advance the practice of medicine as well as nurture the next generation of healthcare professionals.
SingHealth delivers comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and integrated care across a network of acute hospitals, national specialty centres, polyclinics and community hospitals. Offering over 40 clinical specialties, SingHealth is Singapore’s largest public healthcare cluster.
Duke-NUS, Singapore’s flagship graduate-entry medical school, nurtures ‘Clinician Plus’ graduates to become leaders in the global healthcare and biomedical ecosystem, while scientists from its five Signature Research Programmes and nine Centres transform medicine and improve lives in Asia and beyond.
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About the National Cancer Centre of Singapore
The National Cancer Centre of Singapore (NCCS) provides a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to cancer treatment and patient care. We see close to 65 per cent of the public sector oncology cases, and they are benefiting from the sub-specialisation of our clinical oncologists.
To deliver among the best in cancer treatment and care, our clinicians work closely with our scientists who conduct robust, cutting-edge clinical and translational research programmes which are internationally recognised. NCCS strives to be a global leading cancer centre, and shares its expertise and knowledge by offering training to local and overseas medical professionals.
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