New International Effort to Develop World’s First Integrated Systems
Biology Database for Different Races and Ethnicities
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced its support for a
new international research consortium, led by the National University of
Singapore (NUS), that aims to develop the world’s first lipid1
database for healthy persons of different racial and ethnic groups.
Using the lipid database, scientists and researchers hope to better
understand the healthy and unhealthy “fat” levels in people of different
racial and ethnic backgrounds. This knowledge will pave the way for
medical professionals to leverage such key information as diagnostic
markers for their patients in future.
The Lipidomic Natural Variation (L-NAVA) consortium is founded by the
Singapore Lipidomics Incubator (SLING) at NUS. Other founding members
include South Korea’s Graduate School of Analytical Science and
Technology (GRAST) at Chungnam National University; Baker IDI Heart and
Diabetes Institute, a medical research institute located in Melbourne,
Australia; and Agilent, which is L-NAVA’s preferred technology partner.
Using methodology created by SLING, the teams at GRAST and Baker IDI
will undertake similar studies in their domestic markets; the results
will be compiled into a database. (SLING recently concluded a study of
360 healthy subjects from three major ethnic groups—Chinese, Indian and
Malay—in Singapore. Through that study, SLING was able to identify the
upper and lower limits of the normal fat levels for healthy people in
the three groups.)
The lipid information (L-NAVA) will be integrated with glycomic (G-NAVA)
and proteomic (P-NAVA) studies, to provide insight into natural
variation within glycans and proteins as well.
“Understanding natural variations is a major aim of SLING,” said
associate professor Markus Wenk, director of SLING. “This network allows
us to extend, and hopefully connect, our studies on lipids with others
that address variability at the level of genes, proteins and sugars.
Doing this in healthy individuals will provide a broad, foundational
basis relevant for a better understanding of onset of diseases.” Dr.
Wenk is also a faculty member at the Department of Biochemistry at the
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at NUS and the Department of Biological
Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science.
“We are honored to be part of this new consortium, supporting its goal
to systematically determine lipid profiles across different groups of
humans,” said Agilent’s Rod Minett, general manager, Life Sciences,
South Korea and the South Asia-Pacific region. “Agilent’s innovations in
bio-analytical instruments will help consortium members in their
research on the natural variations using different methods. We hope this
resource will help medical professionals provide better-quality care to
Principal investigators in the L-NAVA consortium are professor Wenk;
professor Hyun Joo An, head of department at GRAST; associate professor
Peter Meikle, head of Metabolomics at Baker IDI; and Dr. Rudolf Grimm,
Agilent’s director of Science and Technology and manager of
collaborations in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Lipidomics has the potential to deliver significant new advances in
medicine,” said Professor Meikle. “These include being able to predict a
person’s risk of disease, understanding what causes that disease and
being able to monitor and adjust treatments more effectively. However,
to achieve these advances we must first understand the natural variation
within different ethnic groups. We can then identify more accurately
where abnormal lipid metabolism may be contributing to diseases
including heart disease and diabetes.”
“We are happy to be a founding member of this international consortium
for lipidomics research,” said professor An. “Although we have been
focusing on the natural variation on serum glycoproteins to predict
disease, we believe that the variation of glycans on lipid molecules can
play a critical role in helping the scientific community gain deeper
insights into the biological aspects of life. Our team at Asia Glycomics
Reference Site is keen and ready to expand our research to
lipidoglycomics, as glycolipids are closely involved in the development
of neurons and their aging. This is a diversified yet interesting field
that will benefit the global scientific and even medical communities.”
All members of the consortium use Agilent’s industry-leading triple
quadrupole LC/MS system with ion funnel (iFunnel) technology in their
lipidomics research. The Agilent iFunnel technology offers scientists
and researchers the highest sensitivity and detection levels in their
quest for scientific breakthroughs.
About National University of Singapore (NUS)
A leading global university centered in Asia, the National University of
Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a
global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian
perspectives and expertise.
NUS has 16 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its
transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored
by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 37,000
students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse
social and cultural perspectives.
NUS has three Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 23
university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner
in Singapore’s fifth RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16
national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are
strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths
in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and
natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative
environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.
For more information, please visit www.nus.edu.sg.
About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is the world’s premier measurement
company and a technology leader in chemical analysis, life sciences,
diagnostics, electronics and communications. The company’s 20,600
employees serve customers in more than 100 countries. Agilent had
revenues of $6.8 billion in fiscal 2013. Information about Agilent is
available at www.agilent.com.
On Sept. 19, 2013, Agilent announced plans to separate into two publicly
traded companies through a tax-free spinoff of its electronic
measurement business. The new company is named Keysight Technologies,
Inc. The separation is expected to be completed in early November 2014.
1 Lipids are a group of naturally occurring molecules such as
fats, waxes and fat-soluble vitamins that are needed in the body for a
variety of functions, including energy storage, signaling and acting as
structural components of cell membranes.
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