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A*STAR Patent Power Award 2009 and 2010
Singapore HEALTH Award (Platinum) 2012, (Gold) 2008 and 2010

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A Gel That Can Make Drugs Last Longer

The IBN researchers who developed the new drug-delivering hydrogel for the treatment of hepatitis C.
From right: Dr Motoichi Kuriswa, Dr Ki Hyun Bae, Dr Keming Xu and Mr Fan Lee.

June 25, 2015 – Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR have developed a drug-delivering hydrogel to treat chronic diseases such as hepatitis C, a liver disease that kills around 500,000 people worldwide every year.

“The new gel from IBN prevents premature drug release in the body. This allows for long-term drug delivery and reduces the side effects from frequent drug administration. We hope that our solution can improve the treatment and well-being of patients suffering from chronic diseases such as hepatitis C,” said IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Y. Ying.

The standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C infections includes a weekly injection of a protein drug called PEGylated interferon. The frequent injections increases patient discomfort, is time-consuming, and can cause depression and fatigue.

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IBN Partners with Raffles Institution and Victoria Junior College to Nurture Aspiring Young Scientists

IBN is pleased to partner with Raffles Institution (RI) and Victoria Junior College (VJC) to nurture aspiring young scientists through its Youth Research Program. Both schools have recently signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with IBN to achieve this goal.

“We are delighted to work with RI and VJC to develop the next generation of research talents for Singapore’s biomedical industry. This tie-up will provide opportunities for their students to participate in research attachments and outreach events at IBN. The students will get to work on exciting research projects in bioengineering and nanotechnology under the mentorship of our researchers. We hope that the hands-on experience will help to nurture students who are interested in scientific research,” said IBN Director and Chair of the Youth Research Program, Ms Noreena AbuBakar.

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A Molecular ‘Straw’
Powered by a proton gradient, a world-first helical molecule transports water across membranes

The blue and orange molecules are identical, and stack on each other to form the helix. The central tube of the helix holds a one-dimensional string of water molecules.

April 1, 2015 – Getting water across lipid membranes is not easy. In nature, molecules called aquaporins, discovered in the 1990s, move water from one side of a biological membrane to another, but the molecules are fragile and bulky. Now, researchers from the A*STAR Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology have synthesized a much smaller molecule, which behaves like a ‘molecular drinking straw’ and which may have applications in water purification and elsewhere.

For some years, Dr Huaqiang Zeng led a team aiming to produce tubular molecules that could pipe water across membranes. In 2012, they created molecules that stacked into a helical tube; unfortunately, this tube was not particularly good at holding water in its central tunnel.

Undeterred, Zeng’s team set out to modify that molecule. Substituting a carboxyphenyl group for a carboxybenzyl group was just what was needed – once again the molecules stacked into a helix, but this time it comfortably held a ‘string’ of water molecules.

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IBN in the News

New Contact Lens Coating For Fighting Eye Infections
Chemical & Engineering News, 29 Jun 2015

Gel Possible Treatment for Chronic Diseases
Sunday Times, 28 Jun 2015

Gel that Can Make Drugs Last Longer
Science Daily , 28 Jun 2015

More News   


2 Jul
IBN Seminar Series: Molecular Evolutionary Engineering for Creation of Functional Biomolecules by Dr. Yoshihiro Ito, RIKEN, Japan

6 Dec - 10 Dec
4th Nano Today Conference

Event Calendar   


NEW! Enzyme-Mediated Hyaluronic Acid–Tyramine Hydrogels for the Propagation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells in 3D
Acta Biomaterialia, (2015)
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2015.06.026.
(IF: 6.025) article

NEW! Microstructured Dextran Hydrogels for Burst-Free Sustained Release of PEGylated Protein Drugs
Biomaterials, (2015)
DOI: DOI:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.06.008.
(IF: 8.557) article

NEW! Synthesis and Bioactivity of a Conjugate Composed of Green Tea Catechins and Hyaluronic Acid
Polymer Chemistry, 6 (2015) 4462-4472.
(IF: 5.368) article



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