SINGAPORE—Bayer AG and National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) announced today that they have entered into a five year collaboration agreement to set up a Center of Excellence for Explorative Cardiovascular Studies. The Center of Excellence will aim to boost a patient-centric approach in research and development (R&D), and improve treatment outcomes in cardiovascular disease (CVD) management.
“The setting up of the Center marks a significant milestone to encourage a more sustainable output of patient-centric cardiovascular research into Asian patient populations, which will in turn impact clinical practice and healthcare priorities in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region,” said Professor Terrance Chua, medical director and senior consultant in the Department of Cardiology, NHCS.
The Center of Excellence will combine NHCS’ experience in managing Asian CVD patients and clinical research, and Bayer’s expertise in pharmaceutical R&D, in order to generate and integrate high quality patient data into early clinical research. This will lead to better understanding of the underlying biology of CVDs.
Bayer and NHCS believe that the results could potentially lead to future targeted therapies to address unmet medical needs in defined patient populations. Bayer has pledged to contribute S$5.4 million (approx. €3.4 million) towards setup for the Center of Excellence.
Asia-Pacific accounts for more than half of the world’s CVD burden, and this number is projected to rise with the region’s aging trends. In Singapore alone, 17 people die from CVDs every day, with around a third of deaths attributable to heart diseases or stroke.
Despite these statistics, a lack of understanding remains about the causes and consequences of co-morbidities, disease onset/progression, and treatment outcomes in Asian CVD patients. Current R&D into CVD fails to take into account the diverse characteristics of Asian CVD patients. Reliable data and standardized approaches in understanding disease patterns — including risk profiles among such patients — are critical to developing more effective CVD therapies.
“Our collaboration in this initiative will open up possibilities for other Asian centers to contribute, collaborate and expand the collective knowledge and expertise on cardiovascular disease management,” added Professor Carolyn Lam, senior consultant, Department of Cardiology, NHCS; she has also been named the principal investigator of the Center of Excellence. “This will accelerate the development of more effective therapies to better manage and treat Asian CVD patients.”
Researchers from NHCS and Bayer will be working together over the next five years. The Center of Excellence plans to address three key areas of research: continuous generation of new data and analysis of existing data of CVD patients and healthy individuals, for early research studies; deep understanding of the underlying disease biology in humans to identify, based on mechanism, specific patient groups that can benefit from targeted therapies; and exploring the pharmacological potential of a candidate cardiovascular drug, via explorative in-human studies, to validate biology and demonstrate efficacy.
“Singapore’s high-quality research infrastructure, world-class healthcare system and its diverse population make it an ideal Asian research hub and digital test bed for experimental clinical pharmacology and early cardiovascular studies,” said Dr. Philip Larsen, head of Pre-Clinical Research, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Division. “Bayer’s collaboration with National Heart Centre Singapore demonstrates our continued commitment to growing our cardiovascular research in Singapore and in Asia, to improve our current understanding of cardiovascular diseases and deliver better treatments to patients.”
Bayer notes that, to date, the company has invested more than S$27 million into research projects on Asian-prevalent diseases (oncology and CVD) in Singapore. Over the last 4 years, Bayer reportedly invested approximately S$6.1 million in understanding the Asian phenotype of heart failure with ASIAN-HF. Bayer also says that the company has increased the number of ongoing clinical trials in oncology and cardiovascular indications conducted in the Asia Pacific — more than doubling trials, from 21 in 2007 to 50 in 2019.