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Translational Asian Age-related macular degeneration Programme (TAAP)


AMD is a major cause of vision loss, which leads to enormous socioeconomic and healthcare costs. The numbers affected is rising rapidly, due in part, to an ageing population. A subtype called polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (PCV) makes up 50% of AMD in Asians, but current understanding of this subtype remains limited.

Professor Gemmy Cheung from the Singapore Eye Research Institute, together with her diverse team of retinal specialists, clinician-scientists, and basic scientists, seek to reduce vision loss and blindness from AMD and improve quality of life for patients with this disease through the Translational Asian Age-related macular degeneration Programme (TAAP), funded through an Open Fund –Large Collaborative Grant from the National Medical Research Council in Singapore.

TAAP adopts a “bench-to-bedside-to-population” approach, with the following 5-inter-linked themes which addresses key research questions aligned to clinical needs and strong industry interest:

  • Theme 1 (Population Health) will determine how common AMD/PCV is and the factors leading to increased risk of AMD/PCV in Asians to help plan future preventative interventions.

  • Theme 2 (Pathophysiology) will examine the underlying pathophysiological changes at the cellular/molecular/genetic level in AMD through cell-based and animal experiments.

  • Theme 3 (Novel Imaging Biomarkers) will exploit a multitude of novel imaging technologies in collaboration with industry partners to find ways in which imaging can help guide treatment to achieve better outcomes. 

  • Theme 4 (Therapy) will test and develop new therapeutic strategies through multi-centre clinical trials.

  • Theme 5 (Quality Of Life) will determine how AMD/PCV affects the quality of life among Asian patients, the cost of healthcare and also investigate the effect of new behavioral therapy to improve coping strategies among patients.


Our 5-year Vision

To develop paradigm shifts in our conceptualisation and understanding of Asian AMD, including PCV, that will lead to novel classification and evidence-based cost effective diagnostics, prevention and treatment strategies.

Clinical and Healthcare Significance

The proposed TAAP programme will enhance our understanding of not only the basic mechanisms of AMD and PCV, but also translate basic research into clinical studies and commercialisation outcomes, develop novel imaging diagnostics, improve therapeutic strategies as well as lay the foundation for future cell-based therapy and rehabilitation technologies. The improved health outcome for patients with AMD would significantly reduce the financial burden on both the individuals as well as the population at large. The proposed multi-disciplinary research project will improve coordination and collaboration of research efforts across Singapore and other Asian countries, and lead to the establishment of national infrastructure platforms and coordinated services for AMD, within the region. TAAP is aligned to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) priorities in “ageing” and “precision medicine”.

Media releases
  1. The Straits Times, 18 April 2018
    Title: MOH awards $60M to 3 research projects

  2. SingVision, 15 Oct 2018, Issue 2 (2018)
    Title: SERI and SNEC awarded $24M grant for AMD study

  3. The Straits Times, 1 Dec 2018
    Title: Sights set on more effective way to treat eye diseases

  4. 938NOW, 23 May 2019
    Title: Professor Gemmy Cheung invited for a radio interview with Daniel Martin

  5. Touch Medical Media Services, Euretina Congress 2019, 13 Sept 2019
    Title: Clinical Characteristics in AMD

  6. Channel News Asia, 7 Jan 2020
    Title: STANCE NTU collaboration

  7. BioSpectrum Asian Edition, 28 February 2020
    Title: Gemini Therapeutics and SERI to explore new targets for AMD

  8. The Straits Times, 1 Aug 2020
    Title: Timely eye injections help preserve vision. Interviews with Prof Gemmy Cheung and Dr Kelvin Teo

  9. Mediacorp Channel 5 – Body and Soul – Episode 5, Dec 2020
    Title: Dr Kelvin Teo discussed Age-related Macular Degeneration and the use of the Alleye app for self-monitoring of retinal diseases

  10. Mediacorp radio, CNA 938 Live, 3 Feb 2021
    Title: Live interview with Dr Kelvin Teo. The interview discussed key findings from a research on local AMD patients

  11. Ocular Surgery News, 25 March 2021
    Title: Experts offer opinions on global trends in retina, part 2. (featuring Professor Gemmy Cheung)

  12. Today Online, 29 March 2021
    Title: The world looks brighter with better eyesight

  13. Zaobao, 8 June 2021
    Title: 老年黄斑病变患者 疫情下如何控制病情

  14. Businesswire, 11 October 2021
    Title: RxCell Inc., A*STAR’s IMCB, NUS, and SERI Collaborate to Develop Cellular Therapeutics for Age-related Diseases

Recent Publications

Theme 1

  • Six-year incidence of age-related macular degeneration and correlation to OCT-derived drusen volume measurements in a Chinese population. Tan, A. C., Chee, M. L., Fenner, B. J., Mitchell, P., Tham, Y. C., Rim, T., Teo, K., Sim, S. S., Cheng, C. Y., Wong, T. Y., Chakravarthy, U., & Cheung, C. (2021). The British journal of ophthalmology, bjophthalmol-2021-319290.
  • Prevalence and Pattern of Geographic Atrophy in Asia: The Asian Eye Epidemiology Consortium. Rim, T. H., Kawasaki, R., Tham, Y. C., Kang, S. W., Ruamviboonsuk, P., Bikbov, M. M., Miyake, M., Hao, J., Fletcher, A., Sasaki, M., Nangia, V., Sabanayagam, C., Yu, M., Fujiwara, K., Thapa, R., Wong, I. Y., Kayama, T., Chen, S. J., Kuang, T. M., Yamashita, H., … Asian Eye Epidemiology Consortium (2020). Ophthalmology,127(10), 1371–1381.

Theme 2

  • Investigating the Role of PPARβ/δ in Retinal Vascular Remodeling Using Pparβ/δ-Deficient Mice, Ho, S. Y., Kwan, Y. P., Qiu, B., Tan, A., Murray, H. L., Barathi, V. A., Tan, N. S., Cheung, C., Wong, T. Y., Wahli, W., & Wang, X. (2020). International journal of molecular sciences, 21(12), 4403.
  • Recapitulating atherogenic flow disturbances and vascular inflammation in a perfusable 3D stenosis model. Menon, N. V., Su, C., Pang, K. T., Phua, Z. J., Tay, H. M., Dalan, R., Wang, X., Li, K., & Hou, H. W. (2020). Biofabrication, 12(4), 045009.
  • A Multifunctional Role of Leucine-Rich α-2-Glycoprotein 1 in Cutaneous Wound Healing Under Normal and Diabetic Conditions. Liu, C., Teo, M., Pek, S., Wu, X., Leong, M. L., Tay, H. M., Hou, H. W., Ruedl, C., Moss, S. E., Greenwood, J., Tavintharan, S., Hong, W., & Wang, X. (2020). Diabetes, 69(11), 2467–2480. 
  • Gatorbulin-1, a distinct cyclodepsipeptide chemotype, targets a seventh tubulin pharmacological site. Matthew, S., Chen, Q. Y., Ratnayake, R., Fermaintt, C. S., Lucena-Agell, D., Bonato, F., Prota, A. E., Lim, S. T., Wang, X., Díaz, J. F., Risinger, A. L., Paul, V. J., Oliva, M. Á., & Luesch, H. (2021). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(9), e2021847118.
  • Segmenting Growth of Endothelial Cells in 6-Well Plates on an Orbital Shaker for Mechanobiological Studies. Pang, K. T., Ghim, M., Arshad, M., Wang, X., & Weinberg, P. D. (2021). Journal of visualized experiments: JoVE, (172), 10.3791/61817.
  • Leucine-Rich α-2-Glycoprotein 1 Suppresses Endothelial Cell Activation Through ADAM10-Mediated Shedding of TNF-α Receptor. A. H., Yacoub, M. H., Wilkinson, F. L., Weston, R., Warboys, C. M., Hou, H. W., Weinberg, P. D., & Wang, X. (2021). Frontiers in cell and developmental biology, 9, 706143.
  • LRG1 Promotes Metastatic Dissemination of Melanoma through Regulating EGFR/STAT3 Signalling. Kwan, Y. P., Teo, M., Lim, J., Tan, M. S., Rosellinny, G., Wahli, W., & Wang, X. (2021). Cancers, 13(13), 3279.
  • Largazole Inhibits Ocular Angiogenesis by Modulating the Expression of VEGFR2 and p21. Qiu, B., Tan, A., Tan, Y. Z., Chen, Q. Y., Luesch, H., & Wang, X. (2021). Marine drugs, 19(8), 471.
  • Complement Factor B Mediates Ocular Angiogenesis through Regulating the VEGF Signaling Pathway. Murray, H., Qiu, B., Ho, S. Y., & Wang, X. (2021). International journal of molecular sciences, 22(17), 9580.

Theme 3/4

  • Comparison of retinal vessel diameter measurements from swept-source OCT angiography and adaptive optics ophthalmoscope. Yao, X., Ke, M., Ho, Y., Lin, E., Wong, D., Tan, B., Schmetterer, L., & Chua, J. (2021) British Journal of Ophthalmology, 105(3), 426–431.
  • Framework for quantitative three-dimensional choroidal vasculature analysis using optical coherence tomography. Saxena, A., Yao, X., Wong, D., Chua, J., Ang, M., Hoang, Q. V., Agrawal, R., Girard, M., Cheung, G., Schmetterer, L., & Tan, B. (2021). Biomedical optics express, 12(8), 4982–4996.
  • Polypoidal Choroidal Vasculopathy: Consensus Nomenclature and Non-Indocyanine Green Angiograph Diagnostic Criteria from the Asia-Pacific Ocular Imaging Society PCV Workgroup. Cheung, C., Lai, T., Teo, K., Ruamviboonsuk, P., Chen, S. J., Kim, J. E., Gomi, F., Koh, A. H., Kokame, G., Jordan-Yu, J. M., Corvi, F., Invernizzi, A., Ogura, Y., Tan, C., Mitchell, P., Gupta, V., Chhablani, J., Chakravarthy, U., Sadda, S. R., Wong, T. Y., … Lee, W. K. (2021). Ophthalmology, 128(3), 443–452.
  • Non-ICGA treatment criteria for Suboptimal Anti VEGF Response for Polypoidal Choroidal Vasculopathy: APOIS PCV Workgroup Report 2, Chong Teo, K. Y., Sadda, S. R., Gemmy Cheung, C. M., Chakravarthy, U., Staurenghi, G., Invernizzi, A., Ogura, Y., Ruamviboonsuk, P., Chen, S. J., Gupta, V., Tan, C., Chhablani, J., Corvi, F., Kim, J. E., Gomi, F., Koh, A. H., Kokame, G., Mitchell, P., Wong, T. Y., Lee, W. K., … Lai, T. (2021).  Ophthalmology. Retina, 5(10), 945–953.
  • Patterns and Characteristics of a Real-World Implementation of a Self-Monitoring Program for Retina Diseases during COVID-19 Pandemic. Chong Teo, K. Y., Bachmann, L. M., Sim, D., Yen, L. S., Tan, A., Wong, T. Y., Gemmy Cheung, C. M., & Wei Tan, G. S. (2021). Ophthalmology. Retina, S2468-6530(21)00055-5.
  • Real-World Treatment Outcomes of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Polypoidal Choroidal Vasculopathy in Asians. Fenner, B. J., Ting, D., Tan, A., Teo, K., Chan, C. M., Mathur, R., Yeo, I., Wong, T. Y., Wong, E., & Cheung, C. (2020). Ophthalmology. Retina, 4(4), 403–414.
  • Extended intervals for wet AMD patients with high retreatment needs: informing the risk during COVID-19, data from real-world evidence. Teo, K., Nguyen, V., Barthelmes, D., Arnold, J. J., Gillies, M. C., & Cheung, C. (20201). Eye (London, England), 35(10), 2793–2801.
  • Efficacy of a novel personalised aflibercept monotherapy regimen based on polypoidal lesion closure in participants with polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy. Teo, K., Jordan-Yu, J. M., Tan, A., Yeo, I., Mathur, R., Chan, C. M., Wong, T. Y., Chakravarthy, U., & Cheung, C. (2021). The British journal of ophthalmology, bjophthalmol-2020-318354.
  • The Impact of Disease Activity on 5 year Outcomes in patients undergoing treatment for Neovascular Age Related Macular Degeneration. Chong Teo, K. Y., Nguyen, V., Gemmy Cheung, C. M., Arnold, J. J., Chen, F. K., Barthelmes, D., & Gillies, M. C. (2021). Retina (Philadelphia, Pa.), 10.1097/IAE.0000000000003267. 

Theme 5

  • Identifying the content for an item bank and computerized adaptive testing system to measure the impact of age-related macular degeneration on health-related quality of life. Fenwick, E. K., Lee, E., Man, R., Ho, K. C., Najjar, R. P., Milea, D., Teo, K., Tan, A., Lee, S. Y., Yeo, I., Tan, G., Mathur, R., Wong, T. Y., Cheung, C., & Lamoureux, E. L. (2021). Quality of life research : an international journal of quality of life aspects of treatment, care and rehabilitation, 10.1007/s11136-021-02989-w.
  • Impact of incident age-related macular degeneration and associated vision loss on vision-related quality of life. Man, R., Gan, A., Fenwick, E. K., Teo, K., Tan, A., Cheung, G., Teo, Z. L., Kumari, N., Wong, T. Y., Cheng, C. Y., & Lamoureux, E. L. (2021). The British journal of ophthalmology, bjophthalmol-2020-318269. Advance online publication. 
  • Associations between AMD and sleep dysfunction: a systematic review (under review – Asia pacific journal of ophthalmology)

Patients and Participants

This study will be of major clinical and health care interest. Our ongoing clinical studies, supported by the experienced research coordinators from SERI, have been actively engaging patients. All new patients referred for AMD and PCV are approached by our research team, who will educate patients on the disease, common treatment and expectations. This information forms part of the patient counselling and encourages patients to participate in clinical studies to help improve current understanding and treatment outcome of this potentially blinding condition.

TAAP Clinical Trials (recruiting)

If you are interested in participating in the clinical trials, please contact us here.

Research and Industry Collaborators

TAAP provides a rare and unique opportunity to allow clinicians and basic scientists to come together with industry players in addressing crucial medical research questions, in a multi-faceted manner.

We have a strong, long-standing collaborative partnership with academics and industry with an interest in AMD and PCV.

Our Collaborators include:

Local Academic collaborators
National University Hospital System (NUHS)
Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)
Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS)
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A-STAR)
Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

International Academic Collaborators
University of Sydney, Australia
University of Melbourne, Australia 
Flinders University, Australia 
Beijing Tongren Hospital, China 
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 
Hong Kong Eye Hospital, Hong Kong 
Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan 
Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Osaka University, Japan 
Kyoto University, Japan 
Nihon University Hospital, Japan 
Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Korea 
The Catholic University of Korea, Korea 
Queen’s University Belfast, UK 
Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Germany 
Washington University School of Medicine, USA 
Duke University Eye Centre, USA
Doheny Eye Institute, USA

Industry Collaborators
Topcon Corporation, Japan
Bayer, Singapore
Novartis Singapore
Notal Vision, USA
Gemini Therapeutics
Association for Innovation and Biomedical Research on Light and Image (AIBILI)
AMED Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development
Ferring, Switzerland
SanBio Co. Ltd., Japan
Nidek Co. Ltd., Singapore
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc, Singapre
Cylite Pty Ltd, Australia
Medi-Whale Inc
Boehringer-Ingelheim, Germany
Roche, Switzerland

We are keen to discuss and develop new industry partnerships, and research and development collaborations. You may contact us here.