The National Heart Centre Singapore celebrates 25 years of providing and innovating care with charity gala – S$1.2 million raised for needy patients and cardiac health advancement
Singapore, 17 March 2023 – The National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) celebrated its 25th anniversary in conjunction with its fourth NHCS Heart To Heart Gala on 17 March 2023, at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore with $1.2 million raised.
Over 500 guests attended the Gala in support of NHCS fundraising efforts. The funds raised will go towards providing financial assistance to needy heart patients; supporting high-risk patients who require novel treatment and are unable to undergo conventional therapy; advancing cardiovascular research, and training of cardiac healthcare professionals.
NHCS has grown and progressed steadily from a medical centre to a reputable centre of academic medicine – from pioneering the adoption of many new diagnostic and treatment options, spearheading and collaborating on breakthrough local research, to teaching and grooming generations of medical students and heart specialists.
Over the past 24 years, NHCS has seen over 2.5 million outpatients and 200,000 inpatients. Today, NHCS sees more than 100,000 outpatient visits and approximately 9000 inpatient admissions yearly, making it the busiest cardiovascular specialty centre locally. It remains a regional centre for cardiovascular care, research and education, and was recently ranked top 57 worldwide for its Cardiology services1.
In Singapore, more than 25% of death were due to heart conditions in 2021, with ischaemic heart disease as the second leading cause of death2. While heart disease poses a higher risk to the elderly, those of a younger age can be similarly afflicted with cardiac conditions, such as hypertension, heart attack, heart failure and congenital heart disease. NHCS constantly looks at advancing patient care for better health outcomes, such as its comprehensive suite of Heart Failure services, which offers end-to-end care clinical care, and more recently two novel procedures - TricValve® and TriClip™ were added to NHCS’ comprehensive suite of minimally invasive valve programme.
“As the nation’s population health needs become increasingly complex, with major risk factors for heart disease on the rise, greater emphasis is needed to advance local medical care for cardiovascular conditions and support our financially needy patients,” said Professor Terrance Chua, Chief Executive Officer, NHCS. “We are grateful for the generous philanthropic support and donations received, in aid to prevent heart disease and develop new disease treatments.”
Venturing New Grounds in Cardiovascular Research
Besides clinical care, research plays an important role in cardiovascular care. In recent years, NHCS’ focus areas in research, include precision medicine, clinical data analytics and MedTech (Medical Technology) for drug delivery. Various NHCS’ key research projects have also led to the development of new therapy methodologies, with the setup of spin-off biomedical technology companies, including:
Researchers from a team led by Prof Stuart Cook, Tanoto Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, Senior Consultant with the Department of Cardiology, NHCS, discovered that a protein named Interleukin 11 (or IL11) is responsible for fibrosis, a common cause of cardiovascular and renal disease. Work on the discovery first began in NHCS more than a decade ago in 2012, where the team began searching for a gene that causes fibrosis and inflammation.
The findings subsequently led to a partnership with an international pharmaceutical firm, to develop first-in-class therapeutic antibodies to treat fibro-inflammatory conditions, which had been the largest biotech deal in Singapore, with US$ 1 billion per therapy product developed. Enleofen is a spin-out company from the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) and Duke-NUS Medical School, under the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre.
More recently, the research team were the first in the world to successfully regenerate diseased kidney by blocking IL11, thus restoring impaired kidney function3. Published online in Nature Communications in December 2022, the finding would potentially bring hope for a new treatment to individuals whose kidneys are failing, beyond the current management method of dialysis, with clinical trials in patients targeted to begin in 2024.
TriSail™, a pre-clinical phase, highly innovative device is currently being developed by NHCS clinicians to treat severe tricuspid regurgitation, a condition where the heart’s tricuspid valve does not close properly and affects millions of patients worldwide. The device uses a simple yet robust system, and addresses a potential market opportunity of US$ 4 billion, with patents filed in multiple countries. Animal studies are underway and the technology will be commercialised through a local start-up.
“Research helps us make discoveries that save, extend, and empower. Funding support for research is crucial in enabling the translation of basic science studies from bench to bedside, via clinical trials and spin-off companies for treatment development. And this could bring about significant developments for patient care,” Prof Derek Hausenloy
, Director of National Heart Research Institute Singapore (NHRIS), NHCS expressed, “With the close partnership of our donors, we can make great strides towards improving existing medical knowledge and advancing cardiovascular care for patients.”
Widjaja, A.A., Viswanathan, S., Shekeran, S.G. et al. Targeting endogenous kidney regeneration using anti-IL11 therapy in acute and chronic models of kidney disease. Nat Commun 13, 7497 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-35306-1