Research agreement breaks new ground

Leaders of the genetic medicine research communities in Canada and Singapore will be collaborating on a new joint research and development partnership, according to an agreement signed recently in Singapore.

"A key goal of Trek 2000 is to advance international scholarship and research. We are pleased to participate in this initiative which strengthens our linkages with the Asia Pacific," says UBC President Martha Piper, who was a signatory to the agreement.

The joint agreement between the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) and Singapore's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) results from a Canada-wide search by IMCB to find a research and development (R&D) collaborator.

CMMT is a joint initiative of UBC, Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia in association with Merck Frosst Canada.

Under the partnership, a joint team of IMCB and CMMT scientists located in Vancouver will investigate gene function and look at how changes in specific genes can lead to specific diseases.

The team will also focus on cloning the genes which contribute to disease. In particular, the team will study genes that affect the central nervous system and will later concentrate on the treatment of cancer and hepatitis.

"The CMMT will act as the gateway to the excellence of Canadian research and genomics programs which are being carried out by both the CMMT and the Canadian Genetics Diseases Network (CGDN)," says Dr. Michael Hayden, CMMT's director.

It is anticipated that the research under the partnership agreement will lead to new intellectual property and new targets for developing effective compounds against numerous diseases.

The parties to the agreement are committed to transferring the intellectual property into commercial entities in both countries.

"The new Canada-Singapore agreement signifies the willingness of the two countries to maximize the best of their R&D resources to build an intellectual property pipeline between discovery and economic and health-care benefit," says Dr. Chris Tan, director of the IMCB, which is affiliated with the National University of Singapore.

CGDN is a federal Network of Centres of Excellence which links 50 scientists and their teams in 18 research institutions across the country.

UBC and Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia, under the direction of Dr. Aubrey Tingle, vice-president, Research and Education, will contribute laboratory and administrative space.