Singapore's biomedical research sector received a major boost with the launch of a new Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub. The DxD Hub aims to develop medical diagnostics as one part of the medical technologies industry, improve healthcare through development of diagnostic solutions and accelerate production of new diagnostics devices. Diagnostics is one of four innovation clusters shortlisted to be funded under the $200 million Innovation Cluster Program (ICP) launched Oct. 2013.
Led by the Agency for Science and Technology Research (A*STAR), through its commercialization division ETPL, the DxD Hub will bring together clinicians, researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs and industry professionals onto a common platform to fast track the development of clinically-validated, market-ready diagnostic tools and solutions. Through their participation, diagnostics ecosystem partners will gain experience and acquire the knowledge of taking diagnostic products through the process of validation, testing, regulation and marketing and commercialization.
The DxD Hub has inked multiple partnerships across both public and private sectors. These include collaborations with the healthcare and academic medical community such as SingHealth, National University Health System, National Healthcare Group, as well as academic research organizations like the Singapore Clinical Research Institute. Multinationals such as Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Thermo Fisher Scientific, along with SMEs and start-ups such as AITbiotech, Gencurix, HistoIndex, iPtec, InvitroCue and MiRXES, also are among the early supporters of the DxD Hub.
Institutions such as A*STAR, local universities, polytechnics, SMEs and start-ups can be partners with the DxD Hub by contributing technologies and intellectual property, and clinicians can provide ideas and the requisite validation and trials prior to the transfer to the market. The DxD Hub also will involve companies at the earliest possible stage in the product development process. For example, local start-up MiRXES, spun out from technologies developed in NUS and A*STAR, will access the DxD Hub to expedite the production of its devices.
Joydeep Goswami, Asia Pacific and Japan president for the Life Sciences Solutions, Thermo Fisher Scientific, said, "Thermo Fisher Scientific and the DxD Hub have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding for the co-development of molecular diagnostics tests for global diseases with a focus on Asian phenotype and Asian specific diseases. The collaboration with the DxD Hub will look to offer expanded product development capabilities and resources, including access to assay content, clinical samples and regulatory assistance.
“Combined with Thermo Fisher Scientific's molecular biology, genetic analysis technologies and its diverse R&D capacity (of the Life Sciences Solutions Group), the collaboration is expected to lead to novel assays targeting diseases prevalent that leverage the latest developments in Thermo Fisher Scientific's platforms such as the Quant Studio family of Real-Time PCR instruments and the Ion Torrent next-generation sequencing systems,” said Goswami. “Such a synergistic relationship is expected to accelerate research that will open the path to development and commercialization in Singapore, and address Asia and global needs."
Projects in the DxD Hub's pipeline include breast and gastric cancer early detection tests, imaging tests and devices to differentiate and identify the stages of various clinical indications such as liver fibrosis.
"The unique feature of DxD Hub is its intimate and early involvement of the clinicians in its product developmental process. Such a forward thinking step enhances subsequent introduction of the product into the healthcare system. The partnership with academic medical centers such as the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC permits such possibilities. Surgeons, doctors, nurses will collaborate to add 'clinical' value to their projects," said Dr. Henry Ho, director, medical technology office, SingHealth and senior consultant, department of urology, Singapore General Hospital.