BTI in the News

Singapore: Using an AI/ML Approach to Meat and Seafood Production, OpenGov Asia
24-Jun-2022

The CentRe of Innovation for Sustainable banking and Production of Cultivated Meats (CRISP Meats), a multi-institutional research programme by A*STAR and its partners address the difficulties faced by businesses in accelerating the development and production of cultivated meat and seafood through public-private partnerships.

Dr Ng Say Kong, Principal Scientist and Co-Director of CRISP Meats, said that the use of animal serum in the manufacturing process and high costs of culture media are key contributors to the challenging commercial viability of bringing cultivated meat and seafood products to the general population. The programme is made to address the demands of the cultivated meat and seafood business, from the isolation and documentation of cell lines to the development of novel bioprocesses and animal serum-free growing mediums. It also addresses the high cost of animal serum and cell culture media. They use cutting-edge technology to determine the metabolic needs of cells from various species to accelerate their growth rate, and artificial intelligence and machine learning modelling (AI/ML) techniques to speed up the media formulation process.

Sixteen labs from A*STAR, Singapore Institute of Technology, and National University of Singapore are involved in CRISP Meats. The research teams focus on local seafood, fish, and premium chicken breeds to identify cell lines from food species that cater to Asian palates.

 

The Future of Biomanufacturing: How Technologies for Biologics Production can be used to Grow Food, A*STAR News
22-Jun-2022

Dr Ng Say Kong grows animal cells to develop antibody therapeutics that can be used to treat diseases like arthritis and cancers. He also leads a group that specialises in animal cell culture media development and upstream bioreactor process development.

Dr Tan, who leads the Immune Cell Manufacturing group at BTI, works on deriving cells from premium seafood species such as abalone and tiger prawn, as part of the CRISP Meats programme, by cross-applying his knowledge of isolating primary cells from mammalian sources.

Dr Ng and Dr Tan both co-lead a multi-disciplinary team for CRISP Meats, which aims to develop novel technologies for cost-effective manufacturing of cultivated meat and seafood. CRISP Meats was funded by the Singapore Food Story Grant Call on Future Foods in 2021 and administered by A*STAR, in collaboration with the Singapore Institute of Technology and the National University of Singapore. The aim is to support Singapore’s national agenda towards strengthening the country’s food supply resilience.

Serving Up Cultivated Meat and Seafood for Singapore, A*STAR News
22-Jun-2022

CRISP Meats, a multi-institutional research programme by A*STAR and partners addresses the challenges faced by industry to accelerate the development and production of cultivated meat and seafood through public-private partnerships.

The fresh catch of the day coming to a restaurant near you could soon be lab-grown fish, according to A*STAR and Avant Meats. A newly established joint research laboratory between A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute and Hong Kong’s Avant Meats is looking to enable cost-effective, food-grade production of cultivated fish in Singapore, by optimising scalable production of cultivated fish cells. The joint lab is part of a vibrant alternative protein ecosystem that has emerged locally.

 

Hong Kong cell-cultured seafood start-up Avant Meats raises $10.8m, Asian Nikkei Review
22-Jun-2022

Cell-based seafood producer Avant Meats has secured $10.8 million in a Series A funding round led by S2G Ventures. S2G Ventures, which typically invests in companies specialising in the food, agriculture, ocean, and clean energy sectors, has invested $5 million in Avant Meats, according to its filings with Singapore's Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

Avant is looking to produce traceable and sustainably cultivated proteins in a fully contained environment for consumption, skincare and functional applications. In line with this, the company joined hands with the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) under A*STAR last year to scale up its proprietary process for producing cost-effective food-grade cultivated fish.

WuXi Advanced Therapies and A*STAR announce partnership to advance cell and gene therapy in the Asia-Pacific region, Biospace
28-Apr-2022

WuXi Advanced Therapies (WuXi ATU), a wholly owned subsidiary of WuXi AppTec, and A*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI), announced a new partnership to bring WuXi ATU's proprietary Tetracycline-Enabled Self-Silencing Adenovirus (TESSA™) technology to the Asia-Pacific region. This partnership aims to foster scientific innovation in cell and gene therapy, and establish a joint professional development programme to train and develop the next generation of scientists and engineers in GMP manufacturing for the cell and gene therapy industry.

Dr Koh Boon Tong, Executive Director of A*STAR's BTI said that with BTI's extensive experience in bioprocessing science and engineering, they are excited to collaborate with WuXi ATU in the area of advanced cell and gene therapy and further R&D together, adding that this is a significant step towards Singapore's goal to be an innovative biotherapeutics bioprocessing R&D hub.

WuXi Advanced Therapies and A*STAR announce partnership to advance cell and gene therapy in the Asia-Pacific region
28-Apr-2022

WuXi Advanced Therapies (WuXi ATU), a wholly owned subsidiary of WuXi AppTec, and A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI), announced a new partnership to bring WuXi ATU’s proprietary Tetracycline-Enabled Self-Silencing Adenovirus (TESSA™) technology to the Asia-Pacific region. This partnership aims to foster scientific innovation in cell and gene therapy, and establish a joint professional development programme to train and develop the next generation of scientists and engineers in GMP manufacturing for the cell and gene therapy industry.

SCG Cell Therapy and A*STAR’s BTI Collaborate to Advance Antibody Development for Infectious Diseases and Cancer Treatments
10-Mar-2022

Singapore-based SCG Cell Therapy Pte Ltd (“SCG”), a leading biotechnology company, has signed a collaboration agreement with A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) to advance the development of multi-specific antibodies.

The collaboration will leverage BTI’s multi-specific antibody technology platform and SCG’s product development expertise for novel therapeutic antibody screening and Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control (CMC) process development to discover new treatment candidates for infectious diseases and related cancers, particularly the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV). Such treatments could complement and augment existing drugs and result in more effective, safer and affordable treatments for patients.

Accelerating Cultivated Fish Technology for Mass Market in Singapore, OpenGov Asia
29-Sep-2021

Singapore is the first nation in the world to approve the sale of cultivated meat. The Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR’s) Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) and a cultivated meat company have collaborated to jointly advance the scale-up of the company’s proprietary process to enable cost-effective, food-grade production of cultivated fish in Singapore and beyond. The parties will establish a Joint Research Laboratory for Cultivated Fish Bioprocessing in Biopolis, Singapore where both parties will jointly develop and optimise solutions for scalable production of cultivated fish cells.

"Cultivated seafood and meat is an excellent example of how the biomanufacturing sector can pivot to meet emerging needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of staying adaptable and innovative," said Dr Koh Boon Tong, Executive Director, Bioprocessing Technology Institute, A*STAR.

Production facility for cultivated fish cells set to open in Singapore by 2022
21-Sep-2021

Chinese firm Avant is set to open a pilot production facility for cultivated fish cells in Singapore by next year. This will come alongside a research laboratory by Avant and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)'s Bioprocessing Technology Institute, which focuses on how to scale up the production of food-grade cultivated fish. Multiple research groups are looking into cultivating different animal cells for use in food, including chicken, pork and seafood.

Dr Koh Boon Tong, executive director of A*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute, said the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the biomedical industry having to stay adaptable and innovative. He added: "Cultivated seafood and meat is an excellent example of how the biomanufacturing sector can pivot to meet emerging needs. BTI is pleased to partner and collaborate with Avant to achieve this."

Avant and A*STAR’S Bioprocessing Technology Institute Collaborate to Accelerate Cultivated Fish Technology for Mass Market
20-Sep-2021

Avant and A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) have inked a research collaboration to jointly advance the scale-up of Avant’s proprietary process to enable cost-effective, food-grade production of cultivated fish in Singapore and beyond.

The parties will establish a Joint Research Laboratory for Cultivated Fish Bioprocessing in Biopolis, Singapore where both parties will jointly develop and optimise solutions for scalable production of cultivated fish cells. These include the identification of key factors affecting the growth of cultivated fish cells, and the process design to improve scale up and production economics.

Manufacturing in Singapore through the decades, The Business Times
10-Aug-2021

In commemoration of Singapore’s 56th birthday, The Business Times published an infographic on the nation’s manufacturing journey, showing some of the iconic items made in Singapore across the past few decades. Over the last 60 years, the nation has shifted from creating labour-intensive goods to now providing next generation technologies and high value products. The strategy to double down on high-value areas, such as the pharmaceutical, tech and medical industries, seems to be effective. Last year, manufacturing’s share of gross domestic product rose to 21.5 per cent, up from 20.5 per cent in 2019, thanks in part to growth in high value-added sectors such as pharmaceuticals and electronics.

Since 2020, Singapore’s medical technology sector continues to grow. For instance, during the pandemic, homegrown startups such as MiRXES collaborated with ecosystem partners A*STAR, Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub and Tan Tock Seng Hospital to mass produce the nation’s first authorised Covid-19 RT-PCR test. Since February 2020, more than eight million Fortitude Kits have been deployed globally.

MiRXES revolutionises preventive health care with RNA early cancer detection tests, South China Morning Post
10-Aug-2021

The work of three researchers originally from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and National University of Singapore (NUS) have revolutionised preventive health care globally. Drs Zhou Lihan, Zou Ruiyang and Too Heng-Phon discovered a way of detecting with unparalleled sensitivity the smallest strands of genetic material in the bloodstream known as microribonucleic acid (microRNA). The three researchers later founded biotech company MiRXES, which is behind GASTROClear, the world’s first molecular diagnostic kit for gastric cancer screening. This product was developed in close collaboration with the Singapore Gastric Cancer Consortium and A*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) and Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub. Using its novel microRNA testing platform, the company is developing similar tests for lung, colorectal, liver, breast, pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

Synbiotic formula restores gut microbiota in C-section delivered infants, NutraIngredients
07-Jul-2021

The consumption of a synbiotic formula has been shown to restore gut microbiota in infants delivered via caesarean section, such that their gut flora is similar to those born via vaginal delivery. The findings were based on a study conducted by researchers from Danone Nutricia Research, Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), Bioprocessing Technology Institute, and two hospitals in Singapore and Thailand. The Danone-funded study suggests that the early life nutritional intervention could restore gut microbiota in infants with a compromised microbiome at birth. The participants are currently being followed up with to assess the long-term health results of this enrichment.

Waters collaborates with Singapore’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute, BioSpectrum Asia
28-Jun-2021

Waters Corporation has announced an expansion of its joint work with the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI), a research institute of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Waters and BTI are engaging in data analytics research meant to eliminate a major bottleneck in the characterisation of biopharmaceuticals. They are applying analytics that can identify and visualise complex molecules within glycomics and metabolomics data to ensure the overall safety, accuracy, and speed of biologics manufacturing.

Tech Can Solve Stem Cell Sector’s Manufacturing Challenges, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology
05-Jan-2021

Transplanted stem cells have been used as regenerative therapies for decades. But stem cells have wider therapeutic potential. Despite this potential, to date only one stem cell therapy—the ocular burns treatment Holoclar—has been approved by a major regulator. Manufacture is a major challenge that holds back the sector, according to Steve Oh, director of stem cell bioprocessing at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). To try and address the scalability issue Oh and colleagues developed a micro-carrier-based culturing process—in which the cells grow on the surface of beads in solution—to increase productivity. In addition, Oh notes, protein coatings such as laminin, vitronectin, and fibronectin can be added to the surfaces of the carriers to cater to different cell types. The approach also reduces manual steps, while reducing the overall costs of goods for biomanufacturing. The A*STAR technology was recently licensed to Singapore-based contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) SingCell, which is offering it as a service to cell therapy companies.

New Protocol Advances Toward Lab-Made Universal Red Blood Cells, The Scientist
17-Dec-2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a steep drop in blood donations, leading blood centers in the US to raise the alarm about critical shortages, laying bare the fragility of the current blood supply. For years, scientists anticipating disruptions to the blood supply have been working on developing ways to produce blood in factories in order to provide an alternative source of the vital substance. In a study published on December 10 in Stem Cell Reports, Steve Oh, the director of the Stem Cell Bioprocessing group at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, and his colleagues report a new method to generate large quantities of red blood cells (RBCs) from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), cells that have been reprogrammed from a differentiated state back to an embryonic-like state.

Blood test kit rolled out to detect gastric cancer early, The Sunday Times
25-Oct-2020

A blood test kit that can accurately detect gastric cancer in its early stages is being rolled out in local hospitals and evaluated for use in primary care settings such as polyclinics, said the National University Health System (NUHS) on Friday. The test kit, known as Gastroclear, is the first of its kind in the world. It has been progressively rolled out in public hospitals such as National University Hospital (NUH) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, some private general practitioner clinics and specialist clinics for pre-screening of gastric cancer. The project to develop the new blood test began in 2012. The research team included clinicians and scientists from NUHS, the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), national platform Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub, and MiRXES, a molecular diagnostic company which was spun off from A*STAR. The test takes around three hours to process in a clinical lab, and patients can expect results to be delivered to their doctor in a week.

Interview with Dr Kelvin Ng, Head, Strategic Innovation & Enterprise, Bioprocessing Technology Institute on cultured meat, Hao 96.3FM
02-Oct-2020

A*STAR's Dr Kelvin Ng was interviewed on the advanced technology used for producing cultured meat. Dr Ng is the head of Strategic Innovation & Enterprise at Bioprocessing Technology Institute. Dr Ng said the stem cells are extracted from animals and cultured in bioreactors, which undergo tissue engineering to make cultured meat. Dr Ng outlined the challenges for cultured meat in the market, including the quality and taste of meat, price of products, regulations, and food safety of the process. Dr Ng and his team help scientists to understand the needs of different industries and how technologies could be combined to achieve specific goals. Dr Ng said cultured meat is a very innovative product and it is crucial to foster consumers acceptance. As such, it is important to raise consumers' awareness on the benefits of cultured meat and for the industry to improve its price point, to make it affordable for all.