Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Enhanced Single Cell Transcriptomics for New Biomarkers and Targets in Cardiovascular Ageing

Roger Foo, M.B.B.S., M.R.C.P., M.D., C.C.S.T., F.R.C.P, and Matthew Ackers-Johnson, Ph.D., M.Phil., M.Sci. | National University of Singapore
Competition Sponsor: Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore
Awardee Year: 2020

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the primary cause of morbidity and mortality globally. Related annual US healthcare expenditure exceeds $200bn, of which heart disease alone costs $100bn, surpassing all other diagnoses. Age is a fundamental predictor of CVD risk, and as populations age, associated social and economic burden is projected to become increasingly severe. Survivors of acute myocardial infarction (MI) may develop progressive deterioration of cardiac function and heart failure (HF), prognosis for which remains worse than most cancers. New platforms for biomarker and drug discovery are urgently needed.

We propose to leverage an advanced sequencing protocol, developed in our lab, to identify novel age-associated and disease-relevant cardiac cell types, states, interactions, biomarkers and drug targets. This will begin with a comparison of MI disease response in young and aged mice, at single cell resolution, with key findings later validated in banked human patient tissue samples.
Our protocol is optimised for unbiased, high quality capture and sequencing of dissociated, whole, live cardiac cells, and offers significantly higher sequencing detail than commercial platforms, including a five-fold increase in gene detection. Sequencing of over 2000 cells from young mouse hearts has already demonstrated powerful utility. This innovative approach can thus lead to transformative breakthroughs in understanding, monitoring, management and treatment of age-related CVD. Furthermore, we envisage future applications in a multitude of complex heterogeneous disease settings (vascular, cancer, neurological), unlocking advances in health and longevity research across disciplines.

To learn more about this proposal, email

View this project poster, first displayed at the 2021 Global Innovator Summit.

Sign up for updates