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A*STAR scientists help develop Asian Immune Diversity Atlas

Scientists from A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) will work with scientists from RIKEN and Samsung Medical Centre to develop a genetic reference for Asian populations, and deepen the understanding of health and disease within these major population groups.

The Genome Institute of Singapore falls under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). It’s global vision is to use genomic sciences to make extraordinary improvements in human health. The key research areas at the GIS include Human Genetics, Infectious Diseases, Cancer Therapeutics, Stem Cell Biology and Translational Research.

Asian Immune Diversity Atlas research grant awarded to team of scientists

The philanthropic organisation founded by Dr Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015 have awarded this first Asian research network grant.

It was awarded to a team of scientists from Singapore, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, for their study “Asian Immune Diversity Atlas (AIDA)”.

AIDA, led by Dr Shyam Prabhakar (GIS), Dr Jay Shin (RIKEN), and Prof Woong Yang Park (Samsung Medical Centre), will expand the geographical scope of the internatioal Human Cell Atlas by defining an atlas of Asian immune cell types and states, and characterising their variations associated with ethnicity, environment, age, sex, and body mass index.

The end goal is that science and technology will make it possible to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of this century,

Research aims to identify differences in major Asian population groups

The team from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR’s) Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), RIKEN, and Samsung Medical Centre, aims to identify differences in the molecular properties of blood cells across five major Asian population groups – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Malay.

In addition, AIDA will study differences between individuals of the same ethnicity living in different countries. The results from this work could help us understand why some populations, or some individuals within a population, are more susceptible to certain diseases, and could also pave the way for new blood-based diagnostic tests.

Prof Patrick Tan, Executive Director of GIS, said, “This regional collaboration is in line with GIS’ vision to pursue the integration of technology, genetics and biology towards academic, economic and societal impact. It will help Singapore researchers develop new methods for diagnosing, monitoring, and eventually treating a whole range of diseases related to the immune system, including autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, cancer, and potentially even some developmental disorders.”

Study Funded by The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has funded this study as part of the international Human Cell Atlas (HCA) collaboration, which brings together the best scientific minds in the world to map and characterise all cell types in a healthy human body, to better understand the drivers of health and disease. The HCA has set an ambitious goal of characterising cells from diverse populations all around the world. As the flagship project of HCA-Asia, AIDA will capture data reflecting the genetic diversity of Asian populations.


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