Singapore’s PRECISE partners with Illumina for large-scale population health study

Precision Health Research, the entity responsible for implementing Singapore’s national precision medicine strategy, has partnered with genomics technology company Illumina, for a large-scale population-based study of diseases relevant to Asians.

The project, titled SG100K, will sequence and analyze the genomes of around 100,000 consenting participants around Singapore of Chinese, Malay and Indian descent, representing around 80% of the population in Asia. It is envisioned to be the most comprehensive precision medicine database in the region, generating in-depth information on Asian genomic diversity and Asia-specific diseases.

The three-year partnership will leverage Illumina’s large-scale genomic sequencing capabilities to generate high-quality genomic data at accelerated speed. The partners will also use enterprise-grade data exchange platforms for the secure management and sharing of anonymized biological sample data for sequencing, as well as developing AI approaches for genomic analysis.

“The access, management and storage of our health data will be benchmarked against international best practices and safeguards,” added John Chambers, Scientific Director of PRECISE and Principal Investigator of the SG100k project.

Multiple research and clinical partners, such as medical schools and healthcare clusters, will also be involved in the project.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT

SG100k will enable Singaporeans to better understand key social, environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors related to diseases relevant to their population, such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. The project will also enable the adoption of data-driven approaches to improve population health and patient outcomes.

Additionally, the project will benefit local sequencing companies in Singapore by providing them with training and certification in the use of Illumina’s genomics technology platforms, enabling them to access local and overseas markets. NovogeneAIT Genomics Singapore, a local provider of next-generation sequencing services, was contracted by Illumina to perform genome sequencing of targeted SG100k project participants.

THE GREAT TREND

Singapore’s Ministry of Health has considered precision medicine as an approach to address its health challenges. The country’s National Research Foundation, which funds PRECISE, has also identified precision medicine as a strategic goal of its Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan 2025 to transform and protect the health of Singaporeans.

In other related news, Google Cloud has partnered with Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research to create what could be Australia’s largest genomic dataset, aiming to process around 14,000 genomes, to improve the diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.

REGISTRATION

“Together, PRECISE and Illumina will work to advance Singapore’s biomedical technology industry by creating bespoke data analytics capabilities, establishing a large-scale genomic data infrastructure, and creating new career opportunities to support Singapore’s National Precision Medicine Program,” said Susan Tousi, Chief Commercial Officer of Illumina. .

She also sees the project as a “groundbreaking study [that] will serve as an important catalyst for the growth of precision medicine capabilities across Southeast Asia.”

PRECISE Executive Director Patrick Tan also remarked that their partnership with Illumina is “a testament to our shared ambitions and [a] a shared vision to improve patient outcomes and ensure the health of the people of Singapore through the adoption of genomic and data-driven approaches in Asian-relevant diseases”.

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