EMULSION programme is the first major concerted effort of Scientists, Engineers and Clinicians to tackle one of the most pressing disease of the century. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is an imminent epidemic which is highly prevalent globally due to growing affluence and accompanying sedentary lifestyle. At present, NAFLD is already the leading cause of chronic liver disease and the second etiology for liver transplant. However, NAFLD remains an underdiagnosed disease with no current approved therapy. The current drugs in phase III studies (estimated to be available in 2020) are estimated to have at best 30% efficacy. From the current projection, NAFLD (and associated complications) will become a worldwide epidemic and prevalence is projected to increase to 30% worldwide. This alarming incidence rate continues to go unnoticed due to the lack of accurate non-invasive diagnostic assays. In a recent retrospective cohort study, it is reported that the disease prevalence could be as high as 57% in Singapore. In the near future, the healthcare burden of NAFLD would be immense and comparable to diabetes (50% of diabetic patients suffer from NAFLD). To address this pressing issue, our overarching goal is to develop a competitive platform for developing therapeutics and diagnostics for NAFLD.
EMULSION utilises cutting edge technologies and a comprehensive strategy to develop a platform that recapitulates human diseases in vitro and in vivo for diagnostics and therapeutics discovery. EMULSION aims to achieve this by setting up the following integrative modules: 1) NAFLD clinical and OMICS database: Our first Singaporean- and Asian-centric NAFLD database is an invaluable resource that serves as a clinical reference for future NAFLD studies and for the discovery of new biomarkers for the development of diagnostics. 2) Patient derived bio-resource: This innovative bio-resource provides a renewable source of primary liver cells for the entire programme. This first-in-kind bio-resource is achieved with our proprietary technology to derive liver stem cells from the adult liver. 3) Liver Organoid screening platform: Our cutting-edge technology allows us to generate a mini-liver structure from the liver stem cells that closely mimic the organ. Differentiating from the traditional monolayer cell lines, this advance 3D organ model is the future of human disease modeling for drug screening. 4) NAFLD Human-on-a-chip: Metabolic disease involves complex interplay between different tissue types. We aim to recapitulate this important crosstalk with human primary tissue samples cultured in a microfluidics platform and detection using Nano-sensors. 5) NAFLD and humanised mouse models: Using NAFLD mouse models, we are employing in-vivo genetic screens to identify regulators of fatty liver disease. Humanised mouse models that fully recapitulate the human disease will be generated for drug test and validation.
EMULSION aims to be the leading platform for modeling NAFLD. EMULSION would serve as the platform bridging academic and industry efforts in NAFLD research and aims to provide the essential database and research tool for local and overseas researchers. Most importantly, this platform will lead the efforts in Singapore to combat the imminent NAFLD healthcare burden in the near future.