Southeast Asia’s first nanomedicine research institute gets $60 million funding

November 6, 2013

Based in Singapore, NTU is the world’s largest engineering university, with 16,000 students and almost 2,000 faculty and staff (credit: NTU)

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is establishing the new $60 million Nanomedicine Institute@NTU to focus on applications of nanotechnology for diabetes, cardiovascular, ophthalmology, and skin therapeutics.

Set to be Southeast Asia’s first research institute in nanomedicine, the new institute will be headed by Professor Subbu Venkatraman, Chair of NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, with Professor Chad Mirkin from Northwestern University as the chairman of its advisory committee.

It will also have the International Institute of Nanotechnology (IIN), based in Northwestern University and headed by Mirkin, as its main collaborative partner.

Mirkin, a noted medical nanotechnology expert, is renowned for his work involving spherical nucleic acids, structures made by arranging DNA or RNA into a tiny ball on the surface of a nanoparticle, typically made of gold, and as a pioneer in using nanomaterials for molecular and medical sensing.

The new institute has identified several initial projects such as a new anti-glaucoma nanomedicine. Injected only twice yearly to replace the current daily eye drops, the nanomedicine reduces high eye-pressure, which if left untreated can lead to blindness.

Another project in the works is the new drug-eluting balloon that can deliver drugs in nano form over a long period of time to prevent re-occurrence of cardiovascular plaque that narrow the arteries.

Other collaborations will be with Professor Lenny Rome of the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI); Prof Shlomo Mogdassi of Hebrew University, who was involved with the translation of a very early nanomedicine product, Abraxane, used in the treatment of breast, lung and pancreatic cancer; and Prof Marcelle Machluf of Technion Institute of Technology, recognized for her work in drug delivery and tissue engineering.

According to NTU, market estimates places the value of existing nanomedicine products worldwide at US$112 billion in 2012, and is expected to expand 10.8 per cent annually. The estimates do not include the newly-created markets such as in ophthalmology (approx. $2 billion), dermatology (approx. $1 billion) cardiovascular ($7 billion) and diabetes ($8 to $10 billion).