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Khoo Teck Puat-National University Children’s Medical Institute

Paediatrics. Neonatology. Paediatric Surgery

Common Conditions:




Hand Foot Mouth Disease




Nose Bleed

Febrile Seizures



Urinary Tract Infection

Home > Medical Professionals & Students > Research > Allergy & Asthma Division

Allergy & Asthma Division

Team of Researcher(s)

Prof Hugo PS van Bever

Associate Professor Daniel Goh Yam Thiam

Adjunct Prof Lee Bee Wah

Associate Prof Lynette Shek Pei-Chi

Dr Huang Chiung-Hui

Dr Kuo I-Chun

Professor Hugo PS van Bever

Associate Professor Daniel Goh Yam Thiam Adjunct Professor Lee Bee Wah Associate Professor Lynette Shek Pei-Chi Dr Huang Chiung-Hui Dr Kuo I-Chun














Our data indicate that asthma and allergic diseases are common in Singapore, with up to 20% of schoolchildren with diagnosed asthma. Morbidity of asthma is also substantial in terms of hospital admissions and bed days utilised. The economic burden is considerable, amounting to S$57 million/ annum, and direct costs equivalent to 1.2% of our healthcare bill.

Our research group is one of the pioneers in defining the allergens of this region. The house dust mite is undoubtedly the most important inhalant allergen in terms of prevalence and distribution of the allergens, IgE sensitisation of our population, and its association with allergic respiratory disease. There are 2 highly prevalent dust mite species in Singapore, Blomia tropicalis and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, and this situation is likely to be similar in other tropical communities. In contrast to allergens of D. pteronyssinus and D. farinae whose allergens are highly cross-reactive, we have also established that the allergens of these mites have only low to moderate cross reactivity. Diagnostic and allergen-specific therapeutic modalities would therefore, have to be directed to both dust mite species.

Further, we have established the pollen and spore allergen profile in our tropical environment. The evaluation of IgE sensitisation and nasal challenge studies indicate that the oil palm pollen is the most allergenic in our population. Besides inhalant allergens, we have also defined a unique food allergen in our population. The Chinese delicacy, 'bird's nest' is the most common cause of food-induced anaphylaxis in our paediatric population and evaluation of its putative allergens indicate that the major allergen is 66 kD glycoprotein.

We have extended our work on the allergens of this region to the molecular cloning and expression of these allergens. To date, we have been successful in developing standardised crude allergen extracts and expressing these cloned allergens as purified allergens. These products are important tools as diagnostic reagents, and the purified allergens have been vital for our work in animal models to dissect the allergic response as well as the preclinical work on the evaluation of DNA vaccines as an immunotherapeutic modality. In our pursuit to improve on diagnostic reagents, we have also adopted biosensors technology as an alternative means of immunoassay for total/specific IgE levels. These we envisage will improve our diagnostic capabilities tremendously.

Our work has also extended into the genetics of asthma and atopy. Our research has shown that in our population, there is strong linkage to several markers in the region of chromosome 5q31-33 in the Chinese. This data has provided us with the impetus to further delineate the susceptibility genes for asthma and atopy in the chromosomal region, which is rich in candidate genes.

Our research team has a good track record, with more that 100 international publications in the subject of allergy and immunology, several patents approved and submitted, and awards received. We are therefore poised to face the challenges in this field of research and continue in our pursuit to achieve research excellence.

Asthma is often treated with drugs which mainly address the symptoms but not the cause of the disease. Patients have to take long-term medications and such long-term usage often produces adverse side effects that lead to other health problems. These shortcomings led Prof. Chua Kaw Yan and her team from the Department of Paediatrics, National University of Singapore, to develop the world's first genetic vaccine for the prevention of allergic asthma. Click
here to read more about it.