Stay current with MiRXES

Newsroom > Media Releases

MiRXES collaborates with NUHCS and NHCS to launch Southeast Asia’s first Asian-focused multi-center study to advance pulmonary hypertension early detection

Singapore-headquartered biotech MiRXES, NUHCS and NHCS launch SPHERE study to identify biomarkers that are relevant to early detection of pulmonary hypertension with the aim to improve Asian patient outcomes and save lives

SINGAPORE, 28 September 2022 – MiRXES Pte Ltd, a Singapore-headquartered biotechnology company, whose mission is to save and improve lives through early, actionable, and personalized diagnoses with its industry-leading microRNA (miRNA) technology and diagnostics, collaborated with National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS) and National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) in a nationwide effort to manage the risk of pulmonary hypertension. The organizations jointly launched Southeast Asia’s first multi-center study, Singapore Pulmonary Hypertension Early detection with miRNA biomarkErs (SPHERE), at the NUS ncRNA Symposium and Liquid Biopsy Summit 2022. SPHERE aims to develop miRNA signatures pertinent to Asia, for early detection of pulmonary hypertension (PH).

SPHERE seeks to build on important insights gained from CIPHER, a multi-center study aimed to identify miRNA biomarker signatures for early detection of pulmonary hypertension. While CIPHER focused on biospecimens collected from Caucasian populations, SPHERE aims to provide further evidence to validate CIPHER PH miRNA biomarker classifier to support the development and validation of the miRNA-based diagnostic test for early identification and diagnosis of PH, and to identify PH miRNA biomarkers that are relevant to Asian populations.

Assistant Professor Ting Ting LOW, Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology, NUHCS, and Principal Investigator, SPHERE, said, “Pulmonary hypertension studies in our region are sorely lacking compared to the wealth of data generated in the West. Singapore’s native population is a unique mix of multiple ethnicities and genetic diversity. It is therefore imperative that we invest additional work in Singapore with the SPHERE study, to gain insights and discover biomarkers that are pertinent especially to the Southeast Asian population.”

Clinical Associate Professor Jonathan YAP, Consultant, Department of Cardiology, NHCS, and Co-Principal Investigator, SPHERE, said, “With earlier detection of pulmonary hypertension in the community and expedited referral of high-risk or complex cases, the study could potentially benefit both Singapore and the Asian population at large to achieve better outcomes in diagnosis and treatment.”

Singapore Pulmonary Hypertension Early detection with miRNA biomarkErs (SPHERE)

Pulmonary hypertension can occur as an isolated condition or in the context of other medical conditions. Symptoms are non-specific and well advanced by the time patients are diagnosed by a specialist. The diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension, an aggressive form of pulmonary hypertension – an under-recognized and under-diagnosed disease that is estimated to affect 20 to 70 million people globally, and thus initiation of appropriate management, is often substantially delayed by approximately an average of three years. Due to late diagnosis and intervention, one-year mortality for common forms of pulmonary hypertension can surpass 40 per cent, higher than even some of the common cancers. Early detection of pulmonary hypertension through non-invasive blood test could improve patient survival by accelerating the referral of such patients to pulmonary hypertension specialists and treatment. In more recent years, pulmonary hypertension is increasingly recognized as a proliferative disease with several pathogenic mechanisms similar to cancer.

Increasing evidence suggests that miRNAs play a key role in the pathophysiological processes of pulmonary hypertension. SPHERE will leverage a multi-center cohort of samples collected from well-characterized PH patients and control subjects in Singapore to profile for miRNA expression.

The study aims to recruit about 200 patient volunteers by the end of 2023. The volunteers will comprise newly diagnosed PH patients and existing PH patients from two specialist centers in Singapore – NUHCS and NHCS – as well as healthy control volunteers. Patients from NUHCS and NHCS will have their blood collected and tested for miRNA biomarkers.

Dr. Lihan ZHOU, Co-Founder and CEO, MiRXES, said, “Leveraging our experience developing blood miRNA based early detection tests for common cancers, MiRXES team has collaborated with industry and key opinion leaders from UK and US to discover novel blood miRNA biomarkers for early detection of pulmonary hypertension. We are excited to initiate the first multi-center study focused on Asian population in Singapore with NUHCS and NHCS. The successful completion of the SPHERE study will provide further insights on the clinical utility of blood based early detection of pulmonary hypertension, especially in Asian population. The test, when commercialized, will complement MiRXES’s cancer blood test portfolio to provide a comprehensive set of early detection solutions to alleviate the growing clinical and socio-economic burden of devastating diseases such as cancer and cardio-pulmonary diseases.”

The team aims to present the initial findings of the SPHERE study at a conference in 2024.

NUS ncRNA Symposium and Liquid Biopsy Summit 2022

The SPHERE study was announced at the ncRNA Symposium 2022, co-organized by MiRXES and NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, which aims to advance research in miRNA and other ncRNAs to pave the way for more reliable clinical validation and greater industry adoption of miRNA-based diagnostics, both nationally and globally.

Into its second run this year, the three-day symposium (20 to 22 September 2022) presented a unique opportunity for participants to learn more about the roles of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) in preventive and precision health. The symposium also discussed the utility of ncRNA-based diagnostics and therapeutics in the clinical management of human diseases, as well as dissected the forms and functions of ncRNAs that play critical roles in defining the clinical trajectory of diverse human diseases.

The inaugural ncRNA Symposium was held in January 2020 during which a miRNA Summit was organized by MiRXES for global leaders in the field to chart the way forward in accelerating the clinical adoption of miRNA-based diagnostics worldwide. Since then, despite disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic, MiRXES and its collaborators have made great strides towards this goal by publishing the world’s first National Standard for miRNA-based diagnostics. This year, MiRXES opened Southeast Asia’s first Industry 4.0 in vitro diagnostic manufacturing facility for producing miRNA-based and other diagnostics and launched Project CADENCE for multi-cancer screening test development. In addition, MiRXES has also obtained CE-marking for its first non-oncology miRNA biomarker assay for PH early detection, which will be evaluated as part of the SPHERE study.

Key symposium speakers included MiRXES Scientific Advisory Board members Prof. Frank Slack, Director of the Harvard Medical School Initiative for RNA Medicine, Prof. Yeoh Khay Guan, Chief Executive of the National University Health System, Singapore, Prof. Takahiro Ochiya, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Medicine at the Institute of Medical Science, Tokyo Medical University, Dr. Holger Heyn, Leader, Single Cell Genomics Team, Spanish National Centre for Genomic Analysis (CNAG-CRG), Barcelona, Spain, and Prof. Tony Mok, Chairman and Professor of the Department of Clinical Oncology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Scroll to Top