Q How did INEX get began?
A We spun out from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2006 to commercialise the IP (mental property) we had developed.
We focus on diagnostics in women’s healthcare and we’re in two primary areas – one is being pregnant and the foetus, the opposite is ovarian most cancers.
In being pregnant and the foetus, we now have a check that we promote in hospitals in Singapore and the area, generally known as iGene, which is a type of non-invasive prenatal testing for Down syndrome.
The second factor that we do is a know-how that we’ve got constructed regionally and we’ve got worldwide IP for it. It’s for the detection of early ovarian most cancers, and can be utilized earlier than women bear surgical procedure for ovarian cysts.
Q How does iGene work?
A It screens for Down syndrome in the primary trimester of being pregnant. We take a pattern of blood from the mom’s arm, so we keep away from invasive testing like amniocenteses. Basically, the thought is to keep away from invasive testing.
For now, we ship the pattern to Hong Kong for evaluation. We do genome sequencing in Hong Kong, we get the assay outcome and we distribute the assay outcomes to our colleagues and docs in Singapore.
Right now, it is being completed abroad as a result of we’re ready for regulatory clearance for our lab in Singapore. The Singapore lab is already arrange and able to run. We submitted all of the documentation to the ministry about six months in the past.
Right now, there are a number of corporations that promote the check in Singapore. We hope that when our lab is licensed or accredited to run, we’ll be the primary in Singapore to deploy this check. That is our dream.
Q What makes iGene revolutionary?
A Prior to this, there have been two methods of detecting Down syndrome. One was an invasive technique generally known as amniocentesis – the place you set a needle in the uterus, take out some amniotic fluid, and that carries the danger of miscarriage with it.
But earlier than that, in about 2004 once I was at NUS, we launched a check which seemed behind the infant’s neck to calculate the danger of Down syndrome. But that check has a detection price of about 84 per cent to 85 per cent.
The iGene check seems on the genetic materials that leaves the placenta and goes into the infant’s bloodstream, and we do the sequencing from there, and so this check is definitely wanting immediately on the foetal genetic materials. iGene has a 99 per cent detection price.
Q Is it troublesome to get clearance?
A It’s a revolutionary check, it is a model new check. So the ministry must do its due diligence, it has to talk to all the tutorial schools to ensure that everyone seems to be snug with deploying it in Singapore.
Q Where was the tech behind iGene developed?
A This specific know-how was invented and produced in Hong Kong and the United States.
We are at present working with A*Star (the Agency for Science, Technology and Research), NUS and the National University Hospital to develop the subsequent era of iGene testing.
Q How would the subsequent era of iGene testing work?
A Instead of extracting the DNA, we’ll extract the cells from the maternal blood.
The great thing about extracting the cells is there is a nucleus sitting inside, and the nucleus truly carries the child’s full genetic complement.
With at the moment’s know-how, we will truly sequence the entire genome and we will learn all of the genetic info of the foetus by way of these few cells. So we will check for four,000 to six,000 genetic circumstances – that is the holy grail to us in obstetrics and gynaecology.
Q How shut are you to your objective?
A We’re in the analysis and improvement part for the subsequent era of iGene testing.
To put it in a unique approach, I am very assured that inside the subsequent 5 years, we’ll see this as a actuality. We’re that near the top level. The world has been working on this for greater than 30 years now.
Q It’s like a race then?
A It is a race, and there are a couple of teams in this race, and hopefully it does not should be just one winner.
There shall be hopefully no less than two or three events that may make this occur.
In science, it is essential that for issues to actually be strong and plausible, multiple individual ought to have the ability to do it. So if a number of of us can get to the top level, then we’ll know that this know-how is strong and we’ll be capable of assist unborn foetuses and mums.
Some of our potential rivals are literally probably our collaborators. They truly need to work with us as a result of we’ve acquired super benefit in place for downstream processing of this know-how.
Q What IP do you could have?
A We are working with one of many A*Star institutes, the Institute of Microelectronics, which has a particular filter they’re utilizing to assist us to seek out the foetal cells from maternal blood.
They are very uncommon, however we have got the know-how to reap these cells and the IP rights on the method.