CUHK study discovers correlation between Angiopoietin2 and wet Age-related Macular Degeneration


A recent study by The Chinese University of Hong Kong has discovered a relationship between Angiopoietin2 and the severity of wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Scientists from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences of CUHK have found that the level of Angiopoietin2 is significantly elevated inside the eyes of patients with Wet AMD, as compared to normal people, and that it correlates strongly with vision loss and macular swelling. This is the first time that Angiopoietin2 has been associated with Wet AMD. The team of CUHK researchers believes this finding can lead to a breakthrough in Wet AMD treatment in the near future.

HKU Scientists Effectively Suppress Tumour Growth by Converting Salmonella into YB1 Anaerobe Bacterium


A research team lead by Professor Jiandong Huang at HKU engineered the Salmonella into an anaerobe bacterium named YB1 which only survive and thrive in hypoxic regions inside solid tumours. YB1 can effectively inhibit the growth of tumours while being safe to normal tissues. The researchers hope that YB1 can be further developed into a tumour-targeting agent in the near future.

Professor Jiandong Huang at the School of Biomedical Sciences of Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine said, “Owing to the property that YB1 can survive in tumour, it can be viewed as a ‘guided missile’ to deliver destructive ‘warheads’ to the tumour tissue by means of delivering therapeutic proteins and drugs, resulting in tumour regression.”

Bin Yu, Mei Yang, Lei Shi, Yandan Yao, Qinqin Jiang, Xuefei Li, Lei-Han Tang, Bo-Jian Zheng, Kwok-Yung Yuen, David K. Smith, Erwei Song, and Jian-Dong Huang (2012) Explicit hypoxia targeting with tumor suppression by creating an “obligate” anaerobic Salmonella Typhimurium strain. Scientific Reports 2: 436.

Breakthrough Discoveries at HKUST Offer New Hope for Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease


A research team led by Prof Nancy Ip of HKUST found that interleukin-33 (IL-33) ameliorates cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology. The groundbreaking study has just been published in PNAS.

Defects in the removal of Aβ protein in the brain are believed to be one of the major causes underlying AD. The team at HKUST showed that the presence of IL-33 mobilized the immune cells of the brain, the microglia, to the amyloid plaques and promoted the clearance of Aβ protein. IL-33 also triggered changes in the microglia to reduce overall inflammation in the brain. Inflammation contributes to and drives the pathology of the disease.

“These exciting findings bring us one step closer to understanding the pathological process of this complex, multi-factorial disease and provide a new avenue for developing AD treatments,” said Prof Ip. “The next step will be to translate the findings from the mouse study into clinical treatments for humans.”

Amy K. Y. Fu, Kwok-Wang Hung, Michael Y. F. Yuen, Xiaopu Zhou, Deejay S. Y. Mak, Ivy C. W. Chan, Tom H. Cheung, Baorong Zhang, Wing-Yu Fu, Foo Y. Liew, and Nancy Y. Ip. (2016) IL-33 ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology and cognitive decline. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA doi: 10.1073/pnas.1604032113.

CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Engineering Technology Inventor Prof Emmanuelle Charpentier at HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series

Emmanuelle Charpentier

Prof Emmanuelle Charpentier talks about “The Transformative CRISPR-Cas9 Technology in Genome Engineering: Lessons Learned from Bacteria” at HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series.

“RNA-programmable CRISPR-Cas9 system could be useful as a versatile system for genome editing in cells of all three kingdoms of life for biotechnological, biomedical and gene-therapeutic purposes.  The technology could open up whole new opportunities in biomedical gene therapies,” Prof Charpentier said.  As demonstrated by a large number of studies published over the last two years, DNA targeting by CRISPR-Cas9 has been quickly and broadly adopted by the scientific community to edit and silence genomes in a large variety of cells and organisms, including human cells, plants and mice.

CUHK Prof. Hon-Ming Lam’s new findings help improve plants’ defense response and stress tolerance


Prof. Hon-Ming LAM, Director of the Centre for Soybean Research of the Partner State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology and Professor of the School of Life Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and his research team have uncovered the structure and functions of Rice YchF-type G-protein, for the first time. The research successfully opens a new page on the scientific researches into plants’ defense response and stress tolerance.

Cheung MY, Li X, Miao R, Fong YH, Li KP, Yung YL, Yu MH, Wong KB, Chen Z, Lam HM. (2016) TATP binding by the P-loop NTPase OsYchF1 (an unconventional G protein) contributes to biotic but not abiotic stress responses. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 113(10):2648-2653.

A blood test before birth could predict your medical destiny – CNN reports


In 1996, Prof Dennis LO discovered a “treasure trove” of valuable DNA floating freely in the bloodstream. With this discovery, Prof LO made it possible for pregnant women to safely screen their unborn children for genetic conditions, to map out the entire genome of their fetus, and potentially screen all ages for cancer at its earliest stages. All using a simple blood test. After 20 years, Prof LO now moves on to an even less invasive form of DNA testing — using a mother’s urine.