Singapore opens drug research centre 

In an effort to take Singapore’s drug development to the next level, a national centre for drug research has opened in the city-state.

Based at the biomedical centre Biopolis (pictured), the Experimental Drug Development Centre (EDDC) has over 100 researchers trying to create both chemical and biological drugs.

The organisation would work with Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) research centres, hospitals, universities and firms to transform medical discoveries, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

The centre would “leverage Singapore’s competitive advantage in melding biomedical sciences. Clinical medicine and engineering, to bring early drug targets to first-in-man clinical trials”, said A*Star.

Two agreements were signed yesterday (Wednesday) with one forming the Target Translation Consortium (TTC), which is to run by the EDCC. It is a collaboration between government agencies and academic and health-care institutions to carry out early-stage drug research.

The second deal formed the Singapore Therapeutics Development Review (STDR) grant programme.

Signed by A*Star, the National Health Innovation Centre and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), the scheme is expected to fund early-stage research projects by up to S$750,000 (US$554,000).

The Lion City’s biomedical sciences sector makes up almost 4 per cent of GDP with more than 22,000 employee, said Heng, who is also the National Research Foundation chairman.

The organisation said it manufactured four of the top 10 medicines in the world and had been rated as the most attractive new market for biopharmaceutical investments, with A*Star consistently ranked among the top 10 biotech innovators in cancer research.

“We are the third largest health-tech investment ecosystem in Asia, after China and India,” Hang, who is also finance minister, said.

“Singapore also has a multi-ethnic population the encompasses the major ethnicities in Asia, which will aid in our drug discovery and development efforts aimed at the Asian market.

“Singapore’s biotech companies can collectively contribute to improving the lives of patients and their families in Asia, and open up new markets for their technologies and our economy,” said Heng, who is a frontrunner to become Singapore’s next prime minister.

Dr Damian O’Connell, the EDDC’s CEO, said: “We look forward to working with our partners on the next phase of growth in drug development, and leveraging great science to make great medicines for patients.”



Singapore is gaining an international reputation for health care. Picture credit: Wikimedia