PI: Prof. Karl Tryggvason
Team: Tay Hwee Goon, Guo Jing, Swarnaseetha Adusumalli
Dry age-related macular degeneration and inherited retinal diseases are the main causes of blindness that involve irreversible photoreceptor loss in the macula. Our aim is to replace the damaged/loss of host cells with our functional and clinically-safe photoreceptors. However, the existing methods for generating photoreceptors contain huge limitations. Here, we have a retina therapeutic cell therapy that contains photoreceptor progenitors differentiated from human embryonic stem cells. Our simple and innovative method is xenogen-free and chemically-defined which works towards patient compliant GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards. The promising results from our pre-clinical animal models show that the transplanted cells could improve visual response, potentially promoting retina function. These results may pave the way for cell therapy treatment of macular degeneration. To restore central vision loss for patients with dry aged related macular degeneration or inherited retinal disease using photoreceptor cell therapy.
PI: Asst Prof Dang Thuy Tram
Team: Nguyen Tri Dang, Truong Thi Hong Anh, Pham Minh Vuong, Nguyen Sophie, Aw Min Hui Hilda, Leoi Wei Ning Melisa
Respon Therapeutics has developed a hydrogel platform with on-demand release of drugs for inflammatory disease applications. The key capability of this system is the controlled release of drugs that can result in less frequent drug administration, minimised side effects and lower drug wastage. The technology has been validated in the laboratory in both in vitro and in vivo studies and is currently at Technology Readiness Level 4. Through extensive interviews with clinicians worldwide, the team has investigated the applications for inflammatory arthritis and chronic wound.
On next steps, the team continues to explore other disease areas with a need for such platforms and seek for opportunities to work with clinical collaborators on commercialisation potential. Concurrently, the team will also work on pre-clinical validation on its platform and seek partnership opportunities with biopharmaceutical companies.
PI: Prof Chen Xiaodong
Team: Cui Yajing, Guo Xintong, Leow Wan Ru
The market of personal care products is highly fragmented and competitive. Product development and innovation are key measures to gain a competitive edge in the market. Performing tests on these products are essential in product development for product evaluation and regulatory purposes. However, animal study is currently widely banned, panel test has the drawback of wide personal bias and, current commercial skin mimics are expensive yet their performance is still far from real skin. Fabricated from a natural protein, SilkSkin can provide a cheap but easy and reliable testing platform that brings more standard and reliable results for high throughput product iteration. Therefore, SilkSkin is able to set the industrial standard for in-house product testing and speed up new product development. Compared to other artificial-skin testing platform, SilkSkin has higher relevancy of skin-related testing result to real skin, and SilkSkin can also be customised for various skin types (dry/oily/combined).
PI: Prof Nicholas R. J. Gascoigne
Team: Wu Ling, Wu Liangzhe, Qiu Vicky
With the advent of revolutionary cell immunotherapy, CAR-T cell therapy, cancer patients see the light of a cure for this deadly disease. Around 80% of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) patients showed a complete response, which is only 30% via traditional chemotherapy. Yet, the current CAR-T cell therapy is still in its infant stage. We have invented a “signal tweaking” CAR-T (ST-CAR-T) to tackle the most challenging bottlenecks that hinder the development of CAR-T therapy. ST-CAR-T hinges on the modification of downstream signaling so that redundant TCR signaling in the CAR-T cells is selectively abolished. This receptor selectivity enables ST-CAR-T cells to become an ‘off-the-shelf’ CAR-T, which streamlines manufacturing and makes CAR-T therapy more accessible and affordable. Moreover, this signaling modification empowers ST-CAR-T to be a more targeted and exhaustion-tolerant therapy. So, the application of CAR-T therapy can be unlocked not only in liquid tumour but also in solid tumor
PI: Asst Prof Dang Thuy Tram
Team: Chen Yang, Pham Hoang Linh Chi, Tran Minh Phuong Nam, Giovanni Arnold, Tan Rou Jie Vernice, Teo Wei Min Patrick
FormaCyte is developing a cell-encapsulating implant to reduce the risk of a fatal drop in blood sugar of insulin-dependent diabetic patients. Our technology is able to protect therapeutic cells from immune rejection to deliver appropriate dosages of insulin for injection-free management of diabetes while avoiding the need for immunosuppressant drugs. The competitive advantages of our system are the abilities to prolong survival of the encapsulated cells and to personalise implant size for individual patients. This platform also has potential applications for the treatment of other protein-deficiency diseases such as Hemophilia A and thyroid disorders. The team has verified interest in our technology through extensive interviews with endocrinologists, diabetic patients, and biotech industry leaders in Singapore, US and UK. Its potential application is for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes, Hemophilia A, thyroid disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.
PI: Assoc Prof Timothy Tan
Team: Elaine Moura, Chun Yung Yao, Mohammed Adnan Azam
Currently, there is no definitive and effective treatment for pathological scars (keloids and hypertrophic scars), which is a significant part of the USD
17.94 billion (2018, CAGR of 9.9%) global scar therapy market. Patients inflicted with pathological scars suffer from physical, mental and social comorbidity, and have described themselves to be “desperate for any treatment will actually work”. Scarless, the NTU team led by Prof Timothy Tan, provides the world’s first clinically effective and pain-free treatment of pathological scars using topical siRNA microneedles. This TRL5 patented technology comprises of a dissolvable microneedle containing activated siRNA for scar treatment. The microneedle provides painless transdermal delivery of gene-silencing siRNA to cellular environment, significantly diminishing the production of collagen and achieving scar reduction. Team Scarless is currently working towards clinical trials with partners from Singapore National Skin Centre and the commercialisation of this disruptive technology. Treatment and prevention of scars, especially pathological and surgical scars.