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4th Quarter 2011

A/P Tan discussing treatment options with Mr Lam

Relief and even prevention for sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease

About three in every 1,000 adults above the age of 50 in Singapore are affected by Parkinson’s disease. Besides adversely affecting the quality of life of the sufferers and their caregivers, this chronic disorder imposes a heavy financial burden. It is estimated that for every year, medical costs can amount to almost $11,300 per patient. With a rapidly ageing population, this could impose a significant economic weight on the country’s healthcare system.

While current medication is able to suppress the symptoms caused by Parkinson’s, these drugs bring with them the possibility of various side effects: “The first drug I took gave me hallucinations,” says Mr. Lam, who has been living with Parkinson’s for 8 years, “I also didn’t realize that the medication was making me tired.” But research funded by the Singapore Millennium Foundation helps doctors at National Neuroscience Institute to better monitor and predict the disease progression and outcome for PD patients and achieve optimal results. Mr. Lam says that this has brought about a marked improvement in his daily life.

The research, which began in 2007, has isolated various gene variants which increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Some the genetic factors identified are unique to the Chinese. For this, a key researcher in the team, Associate Professor Tan Eng King, was awarded the National Outstanding Clinician Scientist Award 2011 by the Ministry of Health for his outstanding contribution in Parkinson’s research and for helping elevate the standard of patient care. The team has also developed fruit fly and animal models which aid scientists in the screening of new drugs that may be more effective against the condition.

Working in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, the team is looking into how the onset of the disease can be prevented with the development of new treatment options. It is hoped that through this research, individuals with a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease can be identified early through genetic screening and can be started on medication which will halt the development of the disease.

 

Specialised parental care supports Dani Haziq

Securing knowledge on coping with developmental needs

When Dani Haziq reached the age of three and was not still talking or walking, his parents realized that he was not developing at the pace of a normal child. He cried for attention and was uncomfortable in new places and disliked crowds. Realizing this behavior was odd, his parents gathered their courage and took Dani Haziq to be examined by a doctor at the KK Children’s Hospital Department of Child Development. The doctor confirmed the little boy was autistic.

Dani Haziq’s parents joined parents of 500 children with developmental needs in a programme known as IMPACTT (Involving and Motivating Parents and Caregivers Through Training) funded by Temasek Cares.

They went through six sessions in Signposts, a caregivers’ training programme developed by the Parenting Research Centre of Australia which helped them develop skills in coping with their child and helping him develop. Today thanks to his parents’ knowledge and support, Dani Haziq is able to walk independently, and tries hard to communicate even though his speech is not clear.Temasek Cares – IMPACTT programme was launched in January this year to help parents better manage the behaviour of children with developmental needs. Demand has been so strong that KK Hospital will, in the next two years, be reaching out to parents of another 1,600 children with developmental needs or who are intellectually challenged.

The next phase is to expand the programme to help families manage difficult behaviour of children in the 3-15 years age group. Their inclusion will allow KK Hospital to gather information to help build a customised caregiver’s training programme suited to Singapore.

 

Dr Ji and Dr Roy analysing the properties of bioglue

Reducing a health hazard in homes, schools and offices

Consumers may soon be less prone to health hazards and pollution if an eco-friendly adhesive is used instead of the current conventional glue, in the construction of building interiors and furniture.Through research that began in 2007, Drs Ji Liang Hui and Jegan Roy at the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, have successfully converted a non-edible agricultural by-product, together with material processed from microalgae, into a bio-based glue, which can be used for the production of eco-friendly and safe plywood and medium-density fibreboard.

More importantly, the new bioglue also helps eliminate potential health hazards that occur in situations where conventional glue is being used, such as homes, schools and offices. It does not contain formaldehyde, an identified human carcinogen associated with health hazards such as cancer and the irritation of the eyes, nose and throat- a phenomenon known as the “Sick Building Syndrome”.

And because the key ingredient of this bioglue is an agricultural by-product, it does not compete with food as the key ingredient is not derived from a food source. Commercialization of the new bioglue is now being explored with industry partners.

 

Bank Indonesia’s Master Trainers brainstorming training strategies

Bracing for a volatile financial climate

Bankers at Indonesia’s central bank, Bank Indonesia, are equipping themselves to deal with the continued uncertainty in the world financial system. A programme co-funded with a grant of nearly S$186,000 from Temasek Foundation, has provided the opportunity for some 22 master trainers from the bank to strengthen their capability in the training and development of finance and banking professionals.

Bank Indonesia’s Human Capital and Development Centre is expecting these master trainers to equip fellow trainers with their newly-learnt knowledge and skills to further develop the Centre’s training and development capacity. As many as 82 trainers have undergone these workshops so far, which have now become an integral part of the Centre’s training calendar. This has been a significant boost for the Centre in its efforts to elevate the standards of training for the 5,000 Bank Indonesia staff that it caters to annually. The centre plans to eventually include training to staff of other Indonesian financial institutions.

Temasek Foundation, which is focused on capacity building, partnered with the Civil Service College and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore for this programme.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 25 Oct - Temasek Cares to contribute S$1.1 million towards new mental health programmes[
  • 29 Sept - Enhancing Leadership and Educational Management of MBA Schools in China through Dean and Faculty Capacity Building Programme
  • 9 Sept - TLL & AVA Jointly Announce Grant Award from National Research Foundation on Applied Aquaculture Genomics Research and Development

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