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Genetic Link for Diabetes

Editor’s Letter

Chronic disease as broadly defined by the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) is a condition that lasts one or more years and requires consistent medical attention or limitation of activities of daily living or both. Causes of chronic disease include a range of lifestyle behaviours and environmental conditions that increases its risk in an individual. Some of which include tobacco smoke, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol use. Besides these lifestyle risk factors; genetic markers have been studies in various populations across the world to be associated with an individual’s predisposition to chronic disease.

Diabetes is one chronic disease in Asia that is of major public health concern, due to its increasing number of diabetics each year. The heavy economic and social costs of managing this disease and its complications individually and on healthcare systems provides impetus for governments, private institutions, and researchers to identify methods for efficient treatments as well as preventive strategies to reduce the growing number of cases. In 2016, the Ministry of Health in Singapore declared the “War on Diabetes” in an effort to rally a “whole-of-nation” response to help tackle diabetes and reduce its burden of disease on the healthcare system.

Contributing to better tackle and understand the disease, researchers have been studying the genetic variants in diabetes in Asian populations. An international group of researchers released a study in May 2020, identifying new genetic markers linked to type 2 diabetes in East Asians. In our features for this month, we examine research related to genetic markers associated with type 2 diabetes in Asian populations. (p. 32) These studies could help explain susceptibility of type 2 diabetes in Asian populations as well as provide potential for development of new therapeutic targets against type 2 diabetes.

In the Spotlights for this month we explore new research from Japan presented at the 2020 Tokyo Tech Research Showcase. (p. 36) With the theme of “Biotechnology for Industrial Use”, researchers featured their recent work and its potential real-world applications in various fields such as agriculture, and sustainable manufacturing. Check out the highlights from the panel discussion on “The Future of Regulatory Policies for Digital Health in APAC” held during the APACMed Virtual 2020 Conference in September 2020. (p. 42)

Taking things out of this world, in our columns we take a look at the current state of the commercial space flight industry and what the future may look like for space tourism. (p. 20) Also in the columns section, dive into how artificial intelligence could potentially help in solving our climate change crisis and provide solutions to mitigate its damage on the environment. (p. 14)

Deborah Emmanuel Seah Qing En