Healthcare Series (Featured Innovation)

Aspiring to be a leading, research-led, liberal arts University in Asia, Hong Kong Baptist University is committed to conducting world-leading investigations that extends the frontiers of knowledge, tackles global challenges and benefits the community at home and abroad. 


Pursuing research excellence is one of the priorities of the University's Institutional Strategic Plan 2018-2028. The University keeps enhancing its capacity and strength to produce world-class research with an aim to bring significant impact to society.



Healthcare Series From Drug Authentication to New Drugs (Chinese Medicine)

Integrating modern technology with the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine, scientists from the School of Chinese Medicine of Hong Kong Baptist University has conducted research on Chinese medicine from various aspects. Knowledge Transfer Office of Hong Kong Baptist University has produced an episode about Chinese Medicine research and development with topics from herbs authentication, analysis, research, to new medicine development for public understanding of Chinese medicine.



Healthcare Series From Diagnosis to Treatment (Neurodegenerative Disease)

As reported by the World Health Organisation and Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), every 3 seconds, there is one person diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). As the ageing population is expanding, dementia has become a tremendous socioeconomic issue.


At the moment, there is no cure for AD. The current medical treatment for neurodegenerative diseases could only help to relieve symptoms.


How can we detect or even treat neurodegenerative diseases with current technologies? Through this video, you will learn how the HKBU School of Chinese Medicine and the Faculty of Science could bring hope to the public through their research results. 



Novel Anti-Viral Targeted Drug for Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment

EBV is a ubiquitous human herpes virus, which spreads through saliva. Infection is very common, and most people get EBV when they are young, but they will not experience any symptoms until they are older.


The EBV causes both infectious mononucleosis (sometimes called 'mono' or 'kissing disease') and lymphoproliferative diseases. The oncogenic development of other cancers (e.g. nasopharyngeal carcinoma and a subgroup of EBV-positive gastric cancer) is also associated with the latent infection of the EBV virus. Some reported that 200,000 cancer cases per year are attributable to EBV.


Literature reveals that EBNA1 is broadly distributed in the nucleus of EBV-infected cells. The process of EBNA1 tethering to host cell chromosomes is critical to the efficient replication of EBV-derived plasmids. The development of responsive target-specific bio-probes for in vitro microscopic studies of EBNA1 at the nucleus is still rare. However, our invention can effectively target the dimerization interface of EBNA1, a critical process for the growth of EBVs and the associated tumours. It also provides a method for treating and imaging EBV-associated cancers.



Quality Control Markers for Use in Herbs Authentication

With an increase in people's awareness of health, traditional Chinese medicine, is becoming more popular to be adopted by many people especially Asians. Among many Chinese medicines, Tiepi Shihu (i.e. one of the types of Dendrobium) and Cordyceps Sinensis are two of the most expensive products.


Dendrobium is one of the largest genera in the plant family Orchidaceae. More than 1,100 species of Dendrobium have been identified, with a wide distribution throughout Asia, Europe and Australia. Among them, Dendrobii Officinalis Caulis, known as Tiepi Shihu in Chinese, which is derived from dried stems of Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo, is traditionally recognised as the best Shihu for tonic purposes, such as nourishing the stomach, protecting the throat and benefiting eyes. The stems of Dendrobium officinale are always heated and then twisted into a spiral or springform followed by drying for sale in herbal markets under the name of Tiepi Fengdou. The uncharacteristic appearance and high price of Tiepi Fengdou could lead to the occurrence of adulterants, confusing species, and counterfeits. Therefore, authentication and quality evaluation of Tiepi Fengdou is crucial for ensuring safety and efficacy.


One is the conventional method which greatly depends on the experience of botanical experts and subjective judgement while the other is based on DNA bio-coding, which is very expensive and time-consuming. As known in the industry, the existing methodologies are extremely intricate, difficult and time-consuming, and therefore not suitable for routine quality control. More importantly, they are not able to indicate whether the active ingredients exist in the samples. Some have tried to adopt other kinds of analytical methods including small molecule fingerprint and sugar composition analysis for quality control of Dendrobium officinale. However, these failed to distinguish Dendrobium officinale from other Dendrobium species.


The key to this technology is to provide low cost, efficient, stable and convenient tool with reduced uncertainties in the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of Dendrobium officinale. The technology is now being adopted by the industry for both qualitative and quantitative authentication of herbal materials.


Awards and Recognition



Non-invasive Alzheimer's Disease Diagnostic Kit

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an irreversible, degenerative brain disease that affects brain functions including memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform daily activities. Although AD is incurable at the moment, early interventions and timely treatment could help the patients to retard the progression of the disease and to prolong their normal lives. The concentration of AD-related biomarkers in the human body could be helpful to diagnose AD at the early stage.


Prof. Wong, Prof. Li and their research team have invented a new AD diagnostic kit that tests blood, saliva or urine, providing a faster, more sensitive, affordable and less invasive way than the traditional method of detection.


Its detection assay only requires a few microliters of the body fluids to quantify the target protein biomarkers.



Nano-vesicles for Improving Drug's Stability and Efficacy to Treat Chronic Diseases

Diabetes and asthma are common chronic diseases. Currently, there is no permanent cure for diabetes and asthma, patients can only take drugs to prevent the onset of disease and relieve the pain temporarily. However, diabetes and asthma drugs will be quickly metabolized by the human body and the therapeutic effect of active pharmaceutical ingredients can only last for a short period. Also, the patients may need to take a higher dosage of the drug in order to offset the loss of pharmaceutical ingredients before they reach the target site on the body.


In view of this, Dr. Yang and his research team have developed a new technology to effectively encapsulate the drug by solid lipid vesicles which can control the release rate of drug active substances outside and inside the human body. This lipid vesicle protects and carries medicines to a certain location of the body. Then it releases the medicines at a controlled rate. This not only achieves a better drug delivery effect but also increases the effective time and stability of the drug. Hence, the dosage, side effects, and toxicity of the drug can be reduced. 



Novel Drug for Cancer Diagnostics and Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is well-known in treating cancer that can selectively kill the cancer cells by utilizing a chemical compound called photosensitizer (PS) under particular light irradiation. This is especially true for cancers like skin cancer, prostate cancer and bladder cancer. Currently, only a few PS drugs for PDT are approved by FDA or under-clinical trials.


In light of an unmet need for PS drugs' improvement in terms of cancer cell specificity, depth of light penetration and safety, Prof. Wong Ka Leung and his research team have invented a new generation of PS drug, which targets cancer cells specifically. This PS drug is a porphyrin-lanthanide complex with specific functional groups which are conjugated with carefully chosen peptides to increase cancer cells specificity. The drug is safe as it is used at lower light energy. It is highly selective and it will only destroy cancer cells instead of normal cells. Therefore, it will not induce adverse effects in patients during and after the treatment.


Besides, it can be used with MRI for early-stage disease diagnosis as it provides high-resolution images for accurate diagnosis of cancer. 



Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS Diseases

The "Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Diseases" developed by Professor Bian Zhaoxiang in collaboration with the Chinese University of Hong Kong took reference from the traditional Chinese "diarrhoea formula" and revised it into a new formula for treating IBS-D. Through clinical studies, the drug showed that it is effective in curing visceral pain, torso pain and diarrhoea, and patients found their symptoms improved after taking the medicine for eight consecutive weeks with no recurrence of symptoms. The patent rights are exclusively licensed to PuraPharm Corporation Limited, and large scale clinical trials approved by the China Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health, HKSAR Government will be conducted in Mainland China and Hong Kong respectively. 


Awards and Recognition



Portable Gait Analyser

Portable Gait Analyser (GA) -diagnose the biomechanics of physical activities with unprecedented details. It is a simple and non-invasive technique.


GA is a method to assess the way we walk or run and to highlight our biomechanical abnormalities. Also, it is commonly used in sports biomechanics to help athletes running more efficiently and to identify posture-related or movement-related problems for people with injuries.


Traditionally, it requires taking hundreds of pictures per second and using up to 15 cameras for analysis. In our invention, we simply put a single sensor behind a testee's waist and require him to walk 20 steps. The data collected will be analysed using our algorithm on a computer. It is a non-invasive way to accurately and precisely determine the Legs Length Discrepancy (LLD) of a human being.


Professor Cheung says, "Gait analysis is a systematic study of human motion. To put it simply, it is a method to assess the way we walk or run and to highlight biomechanical abnormalities. Also, it is commonly used in sports biomechanics to help athletes running more efficiently and to identify posture-related or movement-related problems for people with injuries. Gait analysis is usually performed by professionals such as podiatrist, physiotherapist or trained staff member. The process is very complex. But our new portable Gait Analyser can easily measure the biomechanics of walking, running, and other physical activities with unprecedented detail." 


Awards and Recognition



An accurate, non-invasive prostate cancer detection kit using urine

The "An accurate, non-invasive prostate cancer detection kit using urine" invented by HKBU and its spin-off company New Life Medicine Technology Company Limited (NLMT), which won the Gold Medal with the Congratulations of Jury and the Thailand Award for the Best International Invention at the 47th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, which was held in Switzerland from 10 to 14 April 2019.


The innovative test, which can detect the polyamine compounds affected by cancer cells with an accuracy of up to 85%, can be easily used at home as users simply need to mix a urine sample with the patent-pending chemical agent. After a 30 minute wait, users will know if they are likely to have prostate cancer and whether they require further screening and tests. 


Awards and Recognition



Medical Devices for Stem Cell Therapy

The "Medical Devices for Stem Cell Therapy" invented by Professor Ken Yung and Dr Jeffery Huang introduces inorganic sculptured extracellular nanomatrices (iSECnMs), made of biocompatible materials and sculptural structures to avoid using animal or any other biochemical growth factor for cultivating cells. The features of this invention include high bio-safety level, suitable for mass production and low cost. It is hoped to turn this into the therapeutic agent for curing many incurable diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, chronic systemic diseases and degenerative joint diseases. 


Awards and Recognition



Animation of In Vivo Extraction of Neural Stem Cells in the Brain using Novel Nanomaterials

This invention relates to a new method for extracting biological cells focusing on an innovative therapy for the subject diseases by means of personalised neural stem cells from patients themselves. With this novel technique, magnetic nanoparticles covered with antibodies can safely extract neural stem cells from rats. Neurospheres are successfully generated in vitro from the extracted neural stem cells and subsequently transplanted back to the same rat. Through this demonstration, it has proved that the magnetic microsurgery process is simple and safe to implement on animals.


In summary, it is anticipated that this technique may cause significant implications in isolating individual patients' own neural stem cells for tailor-made treatments of their specific neurological problems in future stem cells therapy without the consideration of the ethical issue. This technology though in an early stage of development may give exciting potentials in biological and clinical applications from bench to bed. The finalist of HKBU Innovationem Award 2014 


Awards and Recognition