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Alzheimer's, asthma, cancer, malaria and TB focus of new Singapore grants
Date:4/28/2009

Over 50 research grants totaling $24 million in U.S. dollars have been awarded to Singapore universities, research institutes and hospitals to fund studies related to asthma and other immune system disorders, infectious diseases, aging and cancer.

The extramural grants were awarded by the Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) of A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), the government agency driving Singapore's transformation into an international powerhouse in the biomedical and physical sciences.

In addition to extramural research grants, A*STAR sponsors the research institutes at Singapore's Biopolis and Fusionopolis.

The common dust mite, Blomia tropicalis, which can have an immense impact on quality of life and even be life threatening when it causes allergies in patients with chronic diseases such as cancer, is the focus of three grants awarded to Chua Kaw Yan, Ph.D., of the National University of Singapore's Department of Pediatrics.

One of Dr. Chua's studies will examine the mechanisms of an oral vaccine against the predominant allergen, the "Blo t 5" protein, in B. tropicalis, which is responsible for 60-70% of allergy cases in Singapore, including asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema.

Optimizing the potency of a genetic vaccine against the dust mite will be the focus of her second grant, while the third project will be directed at creating a modified or "recombinant" protein to foster immunity against Blo t 5.

"Immunotherapy remains the only truly disease-modifying treatment for asthma and allergic rhinitis," said Dr. Chua. "Traditional forms of immunotherapy use natural sources of allergens and have numerous disadvantages, such as the presence of undefined material, huge variability in sample composition, and contamination of allergens from other sources.

"We therefore hope to use the major allergen, Blo t 5, to develop a novel and effective therapeutic vaccine for immunoth
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Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
sciencematter@yahoo.com
858-243-1814
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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