AsianScientist (Apr. 8, 2021) – As Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan kicks into high gear, precision medicine is set to play a bigger part in protecting the health of all Singaporeans. In line with this initative, Precision Health Research, Singapore (PRECISE) has been established to drive the Phase II of the country’s National Precision Medicine (NPM) strategy.
Compared to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach still commonly seen in healthcare, precision medicine takes into account genomic, lifestyle and environmental factors for a more comprehensive understanding of health and disease. Not only can precision medicine open the doors to more accurate diagnoses, but it can help clinicians prescribe the right drug to the right patients, inform the development of new drugs and help Singapore address its unique healthcare challenges in a sustainable way.
In 2017, Singapore launched its ten-year NPM strategy to establish the necessary frameworks and infrastructure to realize precision medicine on a national scale. As the central entity coordinating the whole-of-government effort for the NPM strategy in Phase II, PRECISE aims to expand existing research efforts, establish national clinical workflows as well as create new economic opportunities for Singapore’s healthcare and biomedical technology industry.
Since its inception, the strategy has already seen early success, including the world’s largest genetic databank for multi-ethnic Asian populations, also known as the SG10K_Health project.
In this second phase, one goal of the NPM strategy is to scale up SG10K_Health to analyze the genetic makeup of 100,000 healthy Singaporeans and up to 50,000 patients with specific diseases. Called SG100K, the project is a collaboration between the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Nanyang Technological University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, National Healthcare Group, National University Health System, National University of Singapore and the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre.
“With insights into these disease-causing factors, researchers and doctors can develop new approaches that will not only benefit patients in the short term but for decades to come,” said Professor John Chambers, Chief Scientific Officer of PRECISE.
Meanwhile, precision medicine will also be piloted in the clinic, in hopes of improving patient outcomes. Finally, NPM Phase II will continue to partner the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), A*STAR, the Economic Development Board and the Heath Promotion Board to attract overseas companies while yielding new opportunities for homegrown enterprises.
“PRECISE will be looking to develop meaningful public-private partnership models to facilitate growth and drive innovation across the healthcare and biotechnology industry—creating higher-value jobs, nurturing the next generation of scientists and clinicians and strengthening Singapore’s status as the region’s leading medical hub to deliver precision medicine based treatments,” concluded Professor Patrick Tan, Executive Director of PRECISE.
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