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HEALTHCARE | Tony Chua, Singapore
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Fujitsu establishes its first bio-medical research laboratory in Singapore

Company partners with A*STAR in providing cutting-edge methodology to drive research for diagnosis of cancer, diseases.

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., Fujitsu Asia Pte Ltd. and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) jointly announced the official opening of a new research facility in Singapore, Fujitsu Laboratories & R&D Division of Fujitsu Asia Pte Ltd. (hereafter, “Fujitsu Laboratories Singapore”).

As Fujitsu’s first bio-medical focused research facility in the South East Asia region, the laboratory is part of a comprehensive ecosystem which partners universities and research institutes with industry-relevant capabilities that will further strengthen Singapore’s status as Asia’s research and development (R&D) hub. Fujitsu will be working with A*STAR on the development of aptamer technology for diagnostics application and business development trials, according to a Fujitsu report.

Fujitsu Laboratories Singapore will support a number of key research initiatives, working in collaboration with A*STAR, Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC), National University of Singapore (NUS), National University Hospital (NUH) and the Cancer Science Institute (CSI) to explore improvements in diagnostics of diseases such as prostate and gastric cancer, cardiovascular diseases and dengue through the development of aptamers.

Currently, antibodies are used in diagnostics of diseases. The use of aptamers versus antibodies ensures higher consistency, stability and overall quality, resulting in a more efficient and cost effective diagnostic process. Using aptamers for diagnostics will see individuals benefiting from more effective and cheaper diagnosis of diseases, resulting in earlier detection and treatment. This will ultimately translate into higher cure rates and a better quality of life. Governments globally will also benefit as this will mean lower healthcare costs. In addition, Fujitsu’s proprietary methodology for aptamer development enables optimisation in the development process benefitting the pharmaceutical, healthcare and biomedical industry.

“One of the missions of Fujitsu Laboratories Singapore is to conduct strategic research that addresses important biomedical problems, through our novel technology methodology that presents major commercial potential. This is closely aligned with Fujitsu Laboratories’ greater vision of creating a “human-centric networked society”. The launch of Fujitsu Laboratories Singapore and our collaboration with A*STAR symbolises our commitment to contribute to the Asia region by improving human life through innovative technologies,” said Kazuo Murano, Chairman, Fujitsu Laboratories Limited.

Through R&D in electronics, Fujitsu Laboratories started research in nanotechnology in 2000, with one of the focus areas being nano-biotechnology. The world-unique methodology in modified DNA aptamer applied in Fujitsu Laboratories Singapore is a result of 10 years of R&D in nano-biotechnology. The opening of this new lab facility and collaboration with A*STAR reaffirms the company’s commitment to enhancing human life through the application of technology.

Aptamer came to be known recently as an alternative to antibodies. It is manufactured chemically, not biologically, thus ensuring higher consistency and overall quality. However, because aptamers used up to now are made from RNA having unstable nature, they are used in only limited areas. Fujitsu established a novel aptamer development system using stable DNA instead of RNA. One unique characteristic of this aptamer system is its high potential to enable a variety of chemical interactions. This makes Fujitsu's aptamer technology a powerful tool to develop alternatives to using antibodies. By employing Fujitsu's aptamer technology, establishment and optimisation processes of diagnostics development become more efficient. Fujitsu Laboratories Singapore will work closely with customers, partners and academia to generate advancements that will drive research in the area of diagnostics.

Fujitsu aims to be the Asia centre for R&D research across various disciplines, bringing together research expertise and know-how from Fujitsu Laboratories sites located in other countries.

By fostering a collaborative community, Fujitsu will be exploring ways to encourage the sharing of knowledge and best practices. Fujitsu Laboratories' aim is to create commercial value for R&D of customers, partners and academia, as leverage to develop better tools and products with the goal of enhancing human life.

A*STAR and Fujitsu have enjoyed close collaborations on R&D in the physical sciences with the most recent announcement on a partnership to develop petascale computing. The expansion of the strategic partnership into biomedical sciences will allow Fujitsu to continually value-add to the nation through its strength in developing innovative technology solutions. Fujitsu Laboratories Singapore is located in Biopolis, a hub dedicated to biomedical R&D activities and has an environment that fosters a collaborative culture among the private and public research community.

Fujitsu Laboratories Singapore joins a growing community of companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Roche, Abbott and Hill-Rom that are engaged in biomedical R&D in Singapore. To date, 4,300 researchers carry out biomedical sciences R&D in Singapore that includes drug discovery, translational and clinical research in more than 50 companies and other public-sector institutes. In 2009, the output for biomedical manufacturing grew steadily to about S$21 billion and the sector employed more than 13,000 people.

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