Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genotyping & Gene Expression
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Singapore Single-Cell Research Centre Opens Door for Asian Biological Discoveries

Published: Monday, April 29, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, April 29, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Centre dedicated to diagnosis and treatment derived from single-cell exploration.

Government officials, academic, and industry leaders gathered to celebrate the official opening of the Single-Cell Omics Centre (SCOC). It is the first research centre in Asia exclusively dedicated to accelerating the understanding of how individual cells work, and how diagnosis and treatment might be enhanced through insight derived from single cells. This centre will be an important resource for both academic and industry researchers in Singapore and the region, who are keen to access integrated analytics for single-cell genomic applications.

Single-cell genomics is one of the hottest emerging areas of study in life sciences research. It is poised to help solve some of the most fundamental biological mysteries of our time and could lead to new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases such as cancer (breast, prostate, leukemia, etc.), diabetes, memory loss, heart disease and more. For example, scientists now know that the loss of sight (macular degeneration), the biology of aging, and the spreading of  infectious diseases all involve important single-cell phenomena that need to be studied.

The Single-Cell Omics Centre is a collaboration between the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), an institute under the umbrella of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and Fluidigm Corporation, an industry leader in single-cell genomics. Fluidigm became the first biochip company to set up shop in Singapore in 2005.

In attendance at the grand opening were A*STAR Chairman Lim Chuan Poh, Biomedical Research Council Executive Director Benjamin Seet, Biomedical Research Council Director of Industry Development Jonathan Kua, Genome Institute of Singapore Executive Director Ng Huck Hui, EDBI Executive Vice President, Corporate Finance & Planning, Eugene Khoo, Economic Development Board Head of Medical Technology Lim Tse Yong, Fluidigm Co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer Gajus Worthington, Fluidigm Executive Vice President, Research & Development Robert Jones, and Fluidigm Executive Vice President, Worldwide Manufacturing, and Managing Director of Fluidigm Singapore Grace Yow.

“The opening of the Single-Cell Omics Centre is a perfect example of an academic-industry partnership. By encouraging multi-disciplinary collaborations, this centre will play a key role in developing Singapore’s R&D capabilities and scientific know-how. It is also envisioned that this will lead to new, potentially life-saving applications in the regional biomedical sector,” said Mr. Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman A*STAR.

“Fluidigm is an industry leader in single cell genomics and we are proud to have played a critical role in supporting its growth as its first Asian investor,” said Ms. Chu Swee Yeok, Chief Executive Officer and President, EDBI. “The company established the biochip facility in Singapore in 2005 and with EDB’s and our continued support, undertook a full range of manufacturing and R&D activities, leveraging on Singapore’s strengths for its global and Asian needs. The Single-Cell Omics Center is an extension of Fluidigm’s growing activities in Singapore and more significantly, an initiative that will help strengthen its leadership in this important field.”

The SCOC is a dedicated 25 square-meter laboratory in GIS facilities in Biopolis, Singapore. It features advanced next generation genomic equipment and sequencing technologies. This includes the Fluidigm C1™ Single-Cell Auto Prep System, which automatically isolates individual cells from small tissue quantities or larger cell populations. This installation of a C1 system was one of the first in the world. The centre will also house the Fluidigm BioMark™ HD System that performs single-cell gene expression analytics and validation. Both instruments are manufactured at Fluidigm's factory in Singapore.

The SCOC expects to attract top researchers from Asia to conduct single-cell experimentation for foundational research. Scientists from various fields of biology can band together at the SCOC to learn how stem cells might be re-programmed for therapeutic treatments in the future, or to discover how various diseases work so they can develop new drugs or treatments to cure the sickly, or how to personalize medical care so it can meet the need of each patient.

Initially the SCOC is focusing on single-cell analysis of cancer, looking at lung and colon cancers in solid and circulating tumour cell (CTC) forms. CTCs are cells that have shed from the tumour and are circulating in the bloodstream, seeding growth of additional tumours in other organs in the body. Currently samples from solid tumours are studied in aggregate, grouping all the cells together in a mish-mashed genomic stew. The SCOC expects to develop a method where the cells of solid tumours can be easily converted into cells floating in a liquid solution. Then the C1 Single-Cell Auto Prep System will be used to individually isolate and prepare each cell for complete study and sequencing. This will allow researchers to understand -- for the first time -- what is happening in each cancer cell and also be able to study a thousand different cells individually from a tumour. The centre will compare cells taken directly from the solid tumour and those circulating cells from the same tumour to analyse them for commonalities or differences. If it turns out that CTCs closely correlate with cells from the solid tumour, it could eliminate the need for surgery to get samples from the tumour and allow the disease to be monitored by capturing CTCs from blood -- a liquid biopsy.

One of the SCOC's anticipated follow-on projects will involve the development of methods to compare cells treated with a drug against cells that have not been exposed to the drug in order to measure how differently the cells react. These measurements can then be used to find more effective treatments of disease.

These projects require analysis of a large numbers of cells and the work of the SCOC is expected to enable researchers to process hundreds of cells per day in a cost-effective, efficient manner. These breakthroughs could speed up scientific discovery in biology around the globe.

"Single-cell genomics research is both scientifically interesting and provides researchers with a high likelihood for extraordinary scientific discovery. Individual cells, even from the same tissue, do not function identically, and in order to understand and harness that biology, you have to study them individually. With the opening of this Single-Cell Omics Centre in Singapore, we expect the combination of rich application diversity, groundbreaking science and the  endorsement from key opinion leaders throughout Asia to make this centre one of the growth engines of single-cell innovation in the world," said Mr. Gajus Worthington, Fluidigm President and Chief Executive Officer.

GIS Executive Director Prof Ng Huck Hui said, "GIS has identified Single-Cell Genomics as one of our new research frontiers. We are set up to build a repertoire of new research capabilities for single-cell analyses. Our initial collaboration with Fluidigm has borne fruit with the publication of a landmark paper by Dr. Paul Robson. This larger and very important collaboration will see an even greater synergy between the technologies from GIS and Fluidigm."

“Since the late 1830’s we have known the cell is the foundational unit of life but have been challenged to comprehensively study biology at this level. The technology has now arrived to do this and the local research and medical communities are abuzz with the possibilities," said Dr. Paul Robson, GIS Principal Investigator. "The Single-Cell Omics Centre aims to facilitate community access to these microfluidic technologies and thus enable unparalleled insight into underlying biological mechanisms operative in health and disease,” he concluded.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Fluidigm, OpGen Collaborate
Fluidigm and OpGen have announced an agreement to collaborate on instruments and kits to test for multi-drug resistance genes in bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Fluidigm to Acquire DVS Sciences
The acquisition consideration of approximately $207.5 million consists of a combination of Fluidigm common stock and cash.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Fluidigm Announces $60 Million Public Offering of Common Stock
Company has closed the previously announced underwritten public offering of 4,209,000 shares of its common stock at a price to the public of $14.25 per share for gross proceeds of approximately $60 million.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Leading Leukemia Lab Invests In Fluidigm Access Array™ and EP1™ Systems
Fluidigm Corporation has announced that MLL Munich Leukemia Laboratory ( has purchased Access Array™ and EP1™ Systems.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Cancer Research UK Purchases Fluidigm Genotyping System
The research centre will utilize high-throughput SNP genotyping to identify and verify genetic variants underlining susceptibility to various cancers.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Chinese University of Hong Kong Selects Fluidigm’s BioMark™ System for Molecular Diagnostic Applications
The University will use the system to detect and quantify viruses associated with cancer as well as for research on other molecular diagnostic applications.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Scientific News
Ancient Viral Molecules Essential for Human Development
Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Measuring microRNAs in Blood to Speed Cancer Detection
A simple, ultrasensitive microRNA sensor holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers.
Personalized Drug Screening for Multiple Myeloma Patients
A personalized method for testing the effectiveness of drugs that treat multiple myeloma may predict quickly and more accurately the best treatments for individual patients with the bone marrow cancer.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
New Way to Force Stem Cells to Become Bone Cells
Potential therapies based on this discovery could help people heal bone injuries or set hardware, such as replacement knees and hips.
Promise of Newborn Stem Cells to Revolutionize Clinical Practice
In this article Shweta Sharma, PhD, discusses the potential of an Umbilical Cord Blood bank as an untapped source of samples for research and clinical trials.
New Anti-Malarial Drug Screening Model
University of South Florida researchers demonstrate novel chemogenomic profiling to identify drug targets for the most lethal strain of malaria.
Coronavirus Breakthrough
Protein mutation affects spread and virulence of respiratory virus.
New, Better Test for Prostate Cancer
A study from Karolinska Institutet shows that a new test for prostate cancer is better at detecting aggressive cancer than PSA.
Circadian Clock Controls Insulin and Blood Sugar in Pancreas
Map of thousands of genes suggests new therapeutic targets for diabetes.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos