Grants also were awarded to support research using genomics, proteomics and bioimaging to investigate the mechanisms of infection in tuberculosis and malaria, which cause deaths as well as serious illness despite widespread efforts to prevent their transmission.
In their studies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), which infects an estimated two billion people worldwide, National Cancer Centre of Singapore (NCCS) scientists will sift through a bank of DNA samples extracted from drug-resistant MTB strains to identify novel mutated genes conferring resistance to Isoniazid, the main drug now used to treat tuberculosis.
In Singapore, the incidence rate of tuberculosis has increased for the first time in 10 years, leading to concerns over increased transmission of the MTB bacteria.
Ann Lee, Ph.D., who heads the NCCS research team that will investigate MTB, said: "The identification of additional genes associated with Isoniazid resistance is important for the development of comprehensive molecular strategies that are potentially more efficient than current susceptibility testing methods, and could aid in giving more appropriate treatment to patients and decrease the spread of resistant strains. In addition, the discovery of new genes may reveal novel targets suitable for the development of alternative therapeutic options."
At Nanyang Technological University (NTU), a research team led by Peter Preiser, Ph.D., was awarded a grant to conduct basic research on the pathology of malaria, which infects as many as 600 million people worldwide and kills over 1 million yearly.
"A key challenge to successful malaria intervention is our limited understanding of how the malarial parasite evades detection by the spleen our immune system's control centre," said Dr. Preiser. "With this grant, we will use new imaging tools to visualise and measure how many parasites are eliminated in the spleen.
|Contact: Cathy Yarbrough|
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore