Partnering for better diagnostics

18 Jun 2013

A joint research center at the A*STAR Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology aims to improve infectious disease diagnostics

The fully automated MicroKit for rapid detection of flu viruses is one of a number of IBN’s successful collaboration projects.

The fully automated MicroKit for rapid detection of flu viruses is one of a number of IBN’s successful collaboration projects.

© 2013 A*STAR Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

The A*STAR Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has forged a strategic partnership with ARKRAY, Inc., a leader in the field of automated analysis systems, to create new detection kits for infectious diseases. ARKRAY is investing S$9.1 million to set up a base in IBN — its first Asian research center outside of its home country, Japan.

“We are delighted with the partnership. IBN certainly identifies with ARKRAY’s vision of improving lives through scientific advancement and new technologies,” says Jackie Y. Ying, professor and executive director at IBN.

Takeshi Matsuda, president and CEO of ARKRAY, believes that IBN is the most suitable partner for the major collaboration based on the institute’s outstanding record in multidisciplinary research. “ARKRAY is excited to embark on this venture with IBN,” says Matsuda. “With our new research center in Singapore, we look forward to building a strong rapport with IBN through this long-term partnership.”

Founded in 2003 as the first bioengineering and nanotechnology research institute in the world, IBN has developed many notable commercialized biodevices and diagnostic technologies. These include: the MicroKit, an automated diagnostic device for rapid detection of influenza viruses; DropArray™, a miniaturized drug screening platform that allows bioassays to be performed more economically and quickly; and a second-harmonic generation microscope, which forms part of a fully automated quantification system for liver fibrosis. The institute also uses nanotechnology and biological microelectromechanical systems (bio-MEMS) to fabricate innovative miniaturized platforms for early and accurate disease detection.

Under Ying’s leadership, IBN currently has over 120 active research collaborations with industrial, academic and clinical partners. Notably, its MicroKit won a Silver award at the The Wall Street Journal Asian Innovation Awards 2011. Another development that received recognition was the novel superbug-destroying antimicrobial agent developed by IBN and IBM in 2011, which featured as one of the Scientific American top ten “World Changing Ideas” that year.

IBN plays an active role in technology transfer by linking the institute and industrial partners with other global institutions. In 2009, IBN became the first biomedical research institute at A*STAR to win both A*STAR’s The Outstanding Publications (TOP) Award and Patent Power Award. To date, the institute has established six spin-off companies, and it has successfully generated an impressive portfolio of over 600 active patents and patent applications, together with more than 800 publications in leading scientific journals.

ARKRAY is a leading developer and manufacturer of medical diagnostic and monitoring systems, and is particularly well known for its glycohemoglobin and urine analyzers, which help users to monitor diabetes. Founded more than 40 years ago in Kyoto, Japan, its products are currently distributed to over 80 countries. ARKRAY’s new research center at IBN will house 21 researchers sharing the common goal of developing novel detection kits for infectious diseases — a project that aligns with the company’s mission to contribute to the health and wellbeing of the global population.

Looking ahead, Ying shares Matsuda’s enthusiasm for the new partnership, which will run for five years. “We are confident that our collaboration with ARKRAY will lead to the creation of new devices and advanced instruments for disease detection and monitoring,” she says.

About the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) was established in 2003 and is spearheaded by its executive director, Professor Jackie Yi-Ru Ying, who was on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Chemical Engineering faculty between 1992 and 2005, and was among the youngest to be promoted to professor in 2001. Under her direction, IBN conducts research at the cutting-edge of bioengineering and nanotechnology. Its programs are geared towards linking multiple disciplines across engineering, science and medicine to produce research breakthroughs for improved healthcare and quality of life.

About ARKRAY, Inc.

ARKRAY, Inc. is a leading developer and manufacturer of healthcare products and medical diagnostic systems. ARKRAY’s mission is to contribute to the health and wellbeing of people all over the world through the advancement of science and the discovery of new technologies.

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This article was made for A*STAR Research by Nature Research Custom Media, part of Springer Nature