Molecular Diagnostics
School of Chemical & Life Sciences

Project Leader: Dr Patrik Johansson

Hantaviruses are a family of viruses borne by rodent and insectivores, some of which can cause severe illness in humans. Hantavirus infection is commonly diagnosed using serological assays. While there is significant antigenic similarities and cross-reactivity among different Hantaviruses, there are still significant differences in the sensitivity of diagnostic assays between them. The choice of antigen is crucial for the functionality and sensitivity of any serological assay. The same reasoning can be applied to the Dengue viruses. However, as pathogens evolve it becomes more difficult to choose an antigen that is equally suitable for all the strains of the pathogen. SCL scientists are using computer software to select an evolutionary conserved antigen that is better suited to represent a specific set of virus strains for Dengue and Hantavirus molecular diagnostic assays.

Project Leader: Dr Perry Chan

Metastasis, or the movement of cancer cells from their original site to distal sites, is the main culprit in cancer patient mortality.  Current clinical detection methods focus on the changes of a normal cell to a tumor cell, such as its appearance determined by histology or metabolic rates determined by in vivo imaging.  Metastatic potential is usually not measured in diagnosis tests because they are difficult to implement.  In order to test metastasis in the laboratory, materials that simulate the physiological tissue and a high level of expertise in analysing the behaviour of individual cells are required.  As a result, despite cell invasiveness being the main driver of mortality, little about it is known for most cancer cases.  This leads to much uncertainty for the clinician when considering therapies that impinge on the quality of life for the patient.  SCL staff scientists are in the process of developing a simple assay to overcome the two main obstacles of metastasis testing—expensive materials and highly trained clinician scientists.  The assay measures enzymatic activities of cells, which will serve as a proxy indicator of the cellular metastatic potential.

Project Leader: Dr Mark Richards and Dr Patrik Johansson

Lateral-Flow tests are simple diagnostics tests which detect the presence of an analyte in a sample without the need for specialized and costly equipment. The benefits of Lateral-Flow tests include a user-friendly format, fast assay time, stability and relatively inexpensive to fabricate. These features make Lateral-Flow tests ideal for applications such as home-testing, rapid point-of-care testing and testing in the field. Lateral-Flow diagnostics capability has been identified as a new R&D growth area for SCL. Lateral-Flow diagnostics capability at NYP allow us to produce new diagnostic test kits for a variety of infectious disease which are prevalent in Singapore such as Dengue fever and Hand, foot and mouth disease. In addition, this capability will allow NYP to develop novel Life Sciences Applied Learning educational kits for the commercial market in the areas of forensics, food safety testing and Halal testing.

Dengue Virus Outbreaks in Singapore

Representative Publications:

  1. PAK is regulated by PI3K, PIX, CDC42, and PP2Calpha and mediates focal adhesion turnover in the hyperosmotic stress-induced p38 pathway. Chan PM, Lim L, Manser E. J Biol Chem. 2008 Sep 5;283(36):24949-61.
  2. A robust protocol to map binding sites of the 14-3-3 interactome: Cdc25C requires phosphorylation of both S216 and S263 to bind 14-3-3. Chan PM, Ng YW, Manser E. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2011 Mar;10(3):M110.005157.
  3. Collapsin response mediator proteins (CRMPs) are a new class of microtubule-associated protein (MAP) that selectively interacts with assembled microtubules via a taxol-sensitive binding interaction. Lin PC, Chan PM, Hall C, Manser E.
  4. PAKs in human disease. Chan PM, Manser E. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2012;106:171-87.
  5. Dengue virus surveillance for early warning, Singapore. Lee KS, Lai YL, Lo S, Barkham T, Aw P, Ooi PL, Tai JC, Hibberd M,Johansson P, Khoo SP, Ng LC. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 May;16(5):847-9.
  6. Molecular characterization of two hantavirus strains from different rattus species in Singapore. Johansson P, Yap G, Low HT, Siew CC, Kek R, Ng LC, Bucht G.Virol J. 2010 Jan 22;7:15
  7. Development and evaluation of a broad reacting SYBR-green based quantitative real-time PCR for the detection of different hantaviruses. Mohamed N, Nilsson E, Johansson P, Klingström J, Evander M, Ahlm C, Bucht G. J Clin Virol. 2013 Apr;56(4):280-5

Competitive Grants

  1. An enzymatic index to assess metastatic potential of cells (NYP CDP)
  2. Setting up a small scale research and development capability in lateral flow immunoassay technology (NYP CDP)
  3. Dengue Saliva Test Assay Development (NMRC)

Researchers

Dr Perry Chan, Dr Patrik Johansson, Dr Mark Richards