While CSIRO and NTU already have a series of joint projects underway — mostly focused on biomedical manufacturing — this is the first joint Australia-Singapore funded project under CSIRO's Precision Health Future Science Platform (FSP), whose main goal is to develop tailored solutions to help the elderly live better for longer.
Guts and exercise
Both organisations will contribute equally to a $500,000 seed fund for precision health research; the first project under this partnership will explore the role of gut health and exercise in healthy ageing.
In particular, CSIRO and NTU seek to gain a more precise picture of a healthy gut microbiome, in order to better comprehend what is necessary to promote healthy ageing.
Using contributing factors such as diet, behaviours and genetics, the first project will analyse the association between the gut microbiome and ageing. It will also try to determine if more regular exercise can positively affect gut health.
CSIRO deputy director Professor Lynne Cobiac told NutraIngredients-Asia: "We have a team based in Singapore and a team based in Australia that will conduct the study using standardised research methodology so we can combine and compare the information we collect.
"As a starting point, we are aiming to recruit 100 people aged 65 years old and above in each country to look at differences between the two countries, where our cultures and lifestyles vary.
"In addition to this, we will investigate if people who are regular exercisers have a different type of gut microbiome compared to those people who are sedentary."
Precision health for tailored solutions
The ageing populations in both Singapore and Australia have been projected to increase dramatically over the next few decades: the former's elderly population is set to double by 2030, and the latter's is forecast to rise 22% by 2056.
Cobiac said, "While current healthcare systems are focused on treating illnesses, we need to keep up with our ageing population by switching the focus to trying to keep healthy people healthy.
"Precision health is about keeping people healthier throughout their life by taking into account what is happening in an individual's environment as well as what is happening within their bodies.
"It's critical that we focus on exploring disease prevention through personalising lifestyle and healthcare solutions, including the gut microbiome."
She also revealed that CSIRO's Precision Health FSP is conducting research on advanced data analytics, such as AI and machine learning to create insights into better managing health.
"This will be achieved through integrating data from both the health system and information collected by individuals themselves about their environment, in order to provide a more precise picture of an individual's health profile and his risk of developing chronic diseases."
The FSP is also testing a range of highly tailored food, diet, lifestyle and health technology strategies to improve health, while ensuring it maintains community and population participation in its research.
Cobiac added: "We are also exploring how we could conduct a joint study between Singapore and Australia to deepen our understanding of each population's readiness to accept and adopt new health technologies, and taking a more individually tailored approach to healthy ageing.
"We are also aiming to develop a global think-tank to develop a common vision for Precision Health 2030."
NutraIngredients-Asia and FoodNavigator-Asia recently held the first Healthy Ageing APAC Summit in Singapore to address the food and nutrition opportunities stemming from the region's rising ageing population.