New International Effort to Develop World's First Integrated Systems Biology Database for Different Races and Ethnicities
SANTA CLARA, Calif., and SINGAPORE, March 17, 2014
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 their patients."
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.
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.