Did You Know? The Straight Facts about the Metabolic Disease Epidemic in Asia

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Metabolic diseases are one of many healthcare threats faced by the region, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation is committed to working with local governments, industry experts and innovators to develop solutions for patients across the region. Singapore is one of the major innovation hotspots where Johnson & Johnson Innovation is heavily investing efforts to strengthen its entrepreneurial ecosystem, beginning with the launch of the JLABS Singapore QuickFire Challenge – Metabolic Disease Innovation.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation understands the urgency to find solutions to the world’s most pressing diseases, and has created the JLABS QuickFire Challenge as a global platform to attract and support early-stage, game-changing innovation. In response to the millions affected by metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity in Asia Pacific, Johnson & Johnson Innovation launched the JLABS Singapore QuickFire Challenge – Metabolic Disease Innovation, in partnership with A*STAR’s commercialisation arm ETPL and Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), with support from SPRING Singapore, which aims to attract entrepreneurs, startups, and biotech researchers from around the world to submit the best solutions for metabolic diseases.

To understand the severity of the metabolic disease threat, here are three facts you need to know about metabolic disease in the region:

1. China and India are the most diabetes-affected countries worldwide.

India has the highest number of people with diabetes in the world and China ranks second. In China, 11.6% of adults suffer from diabetes[i]. Both countries are part of a regional trend, in which diabetes does not show any signs of abating.

Of the 415 million people worldwide with type I and II diabetes, more than half (232 million) live in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, according to 2015 data from the International Diabetes Federation[ii]. This number is only expected to grow, with predictions that indicate 500 million lives in China and India alone will be affected by diabetes by 2030[iii]. These facts reveal that the two countries combined will have almost half a billion diabetics.

2. Obesity is becoming an issue among youth in Asia Pacific.

Obesity is now a growing global healthcare issue. The global rate of obesity has more than doubled since 1980[iv], and Asian countries are experiencing alarming increases of the disease. What’s particularly worrying is that obesity-related disorders are developing at a younger age among the Asian population compared to the Western population. Overweight and obesity among individuals below the age of 20 in China rose from 5.7% to 18.8% between 1980 and 2013[v]. This makes it even more important to develop innovations that tackle obesity from the very early stages of the disease.

3. Smokers are more vulnerable to diabetes.

Studies show that a smoker has a 45% higher risk of developing diabetes compared to a non-smoker[vi]. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk for type II diabetes[vii].

This might help explain India and China’s diabetes epidemic as these two nations are home to more smokers than the entire population of the European Union[viii]. Almost 1 in 3 cigarettes produced around the globe are smoked in China.[ix]

Join the QuickFire Challenge today!


If you are an entrepreneur, academic or biotech researcher with a game-changing solution for metabolic diseases such as diabetes or obesity, submit your idea now!

We are seeking early-stage innovation for novel solutions including prevention, treatment and/or management of metabolic diseases in the areas of therapeutics, medical device, healthcare technologies, consumer, or diagnostics.

Each of the top three winners can win SGD100,000 project money for research in Singapore, access to ETPL laboratory space, and one year of mentorship and coaching by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, ETPL and SMART staff.

The Challenge welcomes proposal submissions from 22 March 2017 until 17 May 2017. Finalists are announced on 28 June 2017 for eight weeks of mentoring, and winners will be announced between 19 and 21 September 2017.

Find out more on the terms and conditions and submit your application here.

[i] http://www.quintiles.com/blog/how-a-global-registry-could-help-solve-asias-diabetes-crisis#sthash.9MeQKUzu.dpuf

[ii] Idem

[iii] http://asiandiabetesprevention.org/what-is-diabetes/facts-and-figures

[iv] http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/obesity/facts/en/

[v] http://www.genre.com/knowledge/publications/uwfocus14-2-cheong-en.html

[vi] http://asiandiabetesprevention.org/what-is-diabetes/facts-and-figures

[vii] https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/diabetes.html

[viii] https://www.asianscientist.com/2012/08/features/smoking-in-asia-looming-health-epidemic-2012/

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