Cross-border effort to fight dengue, tuberculosis and influenza

Singaporean and Australian researchers are joining forces to defeat serious infectious diseases such as dengue, tuberculosis and influenza.

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research or A*Star in Singapore and the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Australia are granting $4.5 million of funding to five research teams in both countries, the institutes announced in a statement on Wednesday.

These include scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS), who will research the design of treatments and vaccines for tuberculosis. Another team from NUS will focus on developing improved vaccines against dengue, hand foot and mouth disease, and influenza.

Scientists from A*Star will try to uncover why dengue affects some more severely than others, as well as work on developing better treatments for drug-resistant influenza viruses.

Australian scientists from the University of Melbourne and The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research will simaltaneously focus on the same research areas. The diseases being researched were identified as significant threats to public health in the Asia-Pacific region at an A*Star-NHMRC symposium held last year.

Tuberculosis is second only to HIV/ AIDS as the world's greatest infectious killer, while dengue, which has no known vaccine, has had a serious outbreak in Singapore in recent months. Influenza occurs worldwide, killing between 250,000 and 500,000 people each year.