A new research center has officially opened in Singapore that is said to be the first research center in Asia exclusively dedicated to accelerating the understanding of how individual cells work, and how diagnosis and treatment might be enhanced through insight derived from single cells. The Single-Cell Omics Centre (SCOC) will reportedly be an important resource for both academic and industry researchers in Singapore and the region, who are keen to access integrated analytics for single-cell genomic applications.

The SCOC is a collaboration between the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), an institute under the umbrella of the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), and Fluidigm, which became the first biochip company to set up shop in Singapore in 2005.

The new center is a dedicated 25-square-meter laboratory in GIS facilities in Biopolis, Singapore that features next-generation genomic equipment and sequencing technologies including the Fluidigm C1™ Single-Cell Auto Prep system, which can automatically isolate individual cells from small tissue quantities or larger cell populations. This installation of a C1 system was reportedly one of the first in the world. The center also houses two Fluidigm BioMark™ HD Systems that can perform single-cell gene expression analytics and validation. These instruments were manufactured at Fluidigm’s factory in Singapore.

The SCOC expects to attract top researchers from Asia to conduct single-cell experimentation for foundational research. Its founders hope that scientists from various fields of biology will go to the SCOC to learn how stem cells might be reprogrammed for therapeutic treatments in the future, or to discover how various diseases work so they can develop new drugs or treatments to cure the sickly, or how to personalize medical care so it can meet the needs of each patient.

“By encouraging multidisciplinary collaborations, this center will further enhance Singapore’s R&D capabilities and scientific know-how,” said Lim Chuan Poh, chairman of A*STAR. “It may also lead to new, potentially life-saving applications in the biomedical sector.”

“Single-cell genomics provides researchers with an opportunity for extraordinary scientific discovery,” said Fluidigm president and CEO Gajus Worthington. “Individual cells, even from the same tissue, do not function identically. These differences can be the key to crucial biological insights, including the diagnosis and treatment of critical diseases. We expect the combination of rich application diversity, groundbreaking science, and the endorsement from key opinion leaders throughout Asia to make this center one of the leaders of single-cell innovation in the world.”

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