A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) has signed a three-year partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS), National University Hospital (NUH) and Sanofi Pasteur to embark on a Phase IV clinical trial to understand age-related loss of immunity, known as immunosenescence, in elderly.
Declining birth rates coupled with higher life expectancies have raised the percentage of elderly citizens in Singapore significantly over the last 10 years and the number is expected to increase to 900,000 by 2030.
The country's apparent ageing population means greater demand for healthcare facilities to keep elderly healthy. The study therefore aims to meet the growing need by finding new strategies and improving existing ones to sustain elderly's immunity, in the long run.
The research team led by Dr Anis Larbi, Principal Investigator at SIgN, will employ cutting-edge techniques to examine the compromised immunity associated with ageing and identify predictive markers of the condition.
A key collaborator for the study is Associate Professor Ng Tze Pin, who heads the Gerontological Research Programme by the Department of Psychological Medicine at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
Both NUS and NUH will provide the essential clinical expertise and know-how on aging cohorts in Singapore. The trial will utilize a vaccine by Sanofi Pasteur and results are expected to be generated over the next two years.
The collaborative study will improve the understanding of impaired immune responsiveness by identifying the immune challenges in individuals, and more specifically, highlight the defective immune functions in Asian elderly.
The immune senescence expert, Dr Anis Larbi, said, "Infections account for most mortalities of elderly above the age of seventy, yet there is still no efficient way to sustain immunity in them. The outcome of the study will give us clues on the approaches we can take to reduce or restore dysregulated immunity in elderly to ensure healthier longevity."
Professor Laurent Renia, Acting Executive Director of SIgN, said, "SIgN has harnessed many partnerships since its inauguration in 2008. This collaboration signifies a crucial milestone for SIgN as we will be mobilizing most of our expertise in translational research, analytical immunology and complex data analysis for this purposeful project."
Associate Professor Yeoh Khay Guan, Dean of NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said, "NUS and NUH are happy to collaborate with A*STAR and industry partners on clinical trials to help understand changes in immunity in the elderly. It is especially important, in this ageing population that we embark on such projects to protect the elderly from influenza and its complications, so that they remain healthy and active in the community."
Professor Paul Anantharajah Tambyah, Senior Consultant, Division of Infectious Diseases, NUH, said, "This is a very important study which taps on the strengths of collaborating partners. NUH and NUS have strong clinical research traditions and partnerships with the community. Together with A*STAR's and Sanofi's research capabilities, we hope to find an answer to why elderly do not respond well to vaccines and through it, find solutions to help them respond better."