Understanding Childhood (Chronic) Ailments Network – Asia (UCAN-A) is a joint initiative by Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine and the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, which focuses on helping children with chronic diseases in clinically under-served areas in Asia.
The project eliminates the distance between suffering children and state-of-art care, and renders patients and their families’ crucial protagonists for translational medicine.
Addressing Unmet Needs
UCAN-A aims to impact the lives of thousands of children across Asia by addressing the unmet needs in clinical care in the region, which lead to limitations in diagnosis and treatment:
- Lack of standardised clinical care infrastructure: In many under-served areas, clinical care is not delivered to world standards due to lack of specialists with the requisite knowledge, as well limited formal processes for standardisation of protocols to diagnose and treat diseases.
- Lack of patient education and passivity: Patients and their families are unaware of existing diseases and possible treatments, and are thus passive subjects both in care delivery and in translational research. They receive therapy and give biological samples without true involvement and understanding.
- Cultural fragmentation: In Asia, patients are from many different ethnicities, and there is a lack of critical mass of patients belonging to a specific ethnic group to conduct meaningful studies.
- Disconnect between clinics and research: There is little cross-talk between clinicians on the ground and translational researchers, which needs to be overcome in order to make translational research impactful and meaningful to society.
- Lack of Asia-specific molecular genomics knowledge: There is a lack of adequate research infrastructure and resources to cover the full spectrum of ‘Omics”in different regions in Asia. Without the full spectrum of molecular genomics knowledge, it would be impossible to unravel the information needed to better diagnose and treat diseases in a truly personalised manner for the region.
Close to S$1 million was awarded to Professor Salvatore Albani by the SingHealth Duke-NUS Paediatrics Academic Clinical Programme, ACP Paediatrics Fund Award.
The funding will support: the creation of a framework for the UCAN-A approach; training of clinicians and other assisting clinical research staff and set up of the UCAN-A programme; and the implementation/deployment of UCAN-A programme.
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