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Continued Growth is a Strong Endorsement of Singapore as a Location for
Drug Discovery & Development
Singapore's position as a location for cutting-edge research and development (R&D) was further validated when leading drug makers Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Novartis significantly expanded their drug discovery and development operations in the country earlier this year.
1. Lilly's US$150 million expansion of Lilly System Biology will triple
the size of its research operations in Singapore to 150 scientists at
steady state. The Lilly-Singapore Centre for Drug Discovery will focus
on drug discovery work for cancer and metabolic diseases, while
concurrently serving as Lilly's centre of excellence for disease state
modeling and computational sciences.
2. GSK recently opened a US$13 million medicinal chemistry laboratory
which will build on its existing pre-clinical research center focused
on neurodegenerative diseases. At steady state, the center will house
over 60 scientists. GSK hopes to have a Singapore developed drug
candidate in their R&D pipeline by the end of this year.
3. Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) focused initially on
advanced biomedical research on dengue and tuberculosis. It has
discovered one compound to target multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
NITD recently expanded its research program to include malaria. This
new addition is jointly supported by Novartis, the Medicines for
Malaria Ventures and Singapore Economic Development Board.
Starting from a virtually zero base in 2000, Singapore has attracted
the R&D operations of more than 25 companies to-date. International
pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, promising local start-ups and
contract research service providers co-exist and collaborate with each
other as well as with seven public R&D institutions at Singapore's
Biopolis, a purpose-built campus for biomedical sciences (BMS) research.
The ability to leverage on a critical mass of scientific activities to
forge private-public partnerships is a unique feature of the Biopolis.
Recent significant discoveries by the tenants include.
1. Homegrown ES Cell International (ESI) scored a world's first by
creating human embryonic stem cells designed for clinical use. Previous
stem cells were developed using mouse feeder cells and may trigger
immune attacks.(Note 1)ESI's subsidiary was awarded US$660,000 by the
Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to fund research on
the use of embryonic stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson's
2. Local company S*Bio's lead candidate for cancer, SB939, entered
clinical trials in U.S. and Singapore. In preclinical studies, SB939
demonstrated excellent anti-cancer efficacy. SB939 has the potential to
be used as an oral therapy for a variety of human hematological
malignancies and solid tumors.
3. The Genome Institute of Singapore discovered a gene that allows doctors
to better predict the clinical course of breast cancer, thus enabling
them to prescribe more appropriate and beneficial therapies. The gene
can accurately distinguish between low and high grade tumors, and
divide them into subtypes to assess the risk of recurrence and profile
survival outcomes. (Note 2)
4. The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology designed nano
particles that can carry small molecular anticancer drugs and nucleic
acids simultaneously to reduce the side effects of anticancer drugs and
treat cancer more effectively.(Note 3)
Note 1: Nature
Note 2: Cancer Research, November 2006.
Note 3: Nature Materials, 24 September 2006.
"The co-existence of private and public research laboratories,
supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure and world-class scientific
equipment, encourage the synergy of scientific ideas and facilitate
cross-disciplinary collaborative research at the Biopolis,'' said Mr. Yeoh
Keat Chuan, Executive Director, Biomedical Sciences Group, Singapore
Economic Development Board. ''We are now well positioned to accelerate the
next phase of Singapore's biomedical sciences initiative on translational
research, to take discoveries from bench to bedside and back."
BIOPOLIS SHARED SCIENTIFIC FACILITIES
A critical mass of private companies and public R&D institutions are
quickly taking advantage of the shared facilities at the Biopolis,
Singapore's 2.4 million square feet purpose-built BMS research complex.
They can access up-to-date scientific infrastructure and specialized
services without costly capital investments. Some of these shared
1. A high-content screening facility to analyze the effects of drug
entities on cells,
2. An automated protein crystallization platform with in-house x-ray
3. A laboratory to provide routine and ultra-high speed confocal
microscope imaging solutions,
4. A microarray center to provide resources for printed and commercially-
produced chips, and
5. A facility with pathogen free research animals.
"The facilities at the Biopolis help researchers achieve a quick and
timely start-up," said Prof. Ren Ee Chee, Director, Biopolis Shared
Facilities. "As a result, demand has been very strong from companies such
as ES Cell International, Takeda Singapore, CombinatoRx and others."
New equipment to enhance content screen confocal microscopy, to
complete the range of flow cytometry for stem cell research and to complete
the range of microarray for genome typing, will also be added to supplement
the research services available.
Since it was launched in October 2003, the take-up rate for Biopolis
phase I has exceeded expectations. It is over 95% occupied. Phase II, which
was opened in October 2006, is now over 80% occupied. As a result, work has
begun on the next phase.
To obtain more information, please visit the Singapore Pavilion at
booth number 2533.
For media enquiries, please contact Ruder Finn.
Ruder Finn Binder (Boston)
Ruder Finn Asia (Singapore)
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