The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) jointly announced the establishment of a foundation to be named the "Respiratory Virus Research Foundation" to support respiratory viral infection research and corresponding translational research in Hong Kong today (November 12, 2015) with a total donation of HK$24 million. A ceremony and press conference were held at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU, with guests from supporting foundations and representatives from both universities to celebrate the establishment of this joint collaboration.
In earlier research - led by HKU Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, Henry Fok Professor in Infectious Diseases, Chair Professor of Infectious Diseases from the Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, and team member Dr Ivan Hung Fan-ngai, Clinical Associate Professor of the Department of Medicine - it was found that pretreatment with topical imiquimod significantly enhanced and prolonged the protection by the flu vaccine in elderly patients. However, its effect in young and healthy people was unknown. Recently, the research team further discovered that the effect of applying imiquimod ointment before vaccination also expedited, augmented and prolonged the immunogenicity of flu vaccination among young and healthy people. The study has been published on November 9, 2015 in the leading medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
In this latest research, HKU is able to demonstrate the ability of imiquimod and intradermal vaccine to confer protection against non-vaccine virus strains. Therefore this novel approach will give protection to patients even when the vaccine strain may not match the circulating or epidemic strain. Professor Paul Tam Kwong-hang, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong said: "A study like the pretreatment application of imiquimod is an important advance in immunization. But basic scientific breakthroughs alone are not enough to effectively control emerging infectious diseases. With the Respiratory Virus Research Foundation, we shall partner with researchers at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University to develop our findings into useful, clinical products which aim to provide greater protection to the general population in Hong Kong and beyond."
The establishment of the Respiratory Virus Research Foundation, with generous support from various donors, will further extend basic research and translate the research results into clinically applicable products for local and regional needs. The Foundation will be led by Mr Antony Leung, Group Chief Executive Officer of Nan Fung Group, Professor Paul Cheung Ying-sheung, HKU Associate Vice President and Director of HKU's Technology Transfer Office, and Ir. Professor Alexander Wai Ping-kong, Vice President (Research Development) of PolyU, along with the great support of Executive & Trust Committee member of Macau Henry Fok Foundation Dr Manson Fok, and Trustee of The D. H. Chen Foundation Ms Karen Cheung Tih-loh.
As a local leader in knowledge transfer and applied research, PolyU is experienced in translating academic research into useful applications. Ir. Professor Alexander Wai Ping-kong, Vice President (Research Development) of PolyU said: "The collaboration between HKU and PolyU will enable both parties to turn academic findings into pragmatic solutions for addressing healthcare problems promptly through our areas of competence. These include medical diagnostics, biomedical engineering as well as translational research development in new drugs and vaccines." One of the collaborative projects is led by Professor Terence Lau Lok-ting, Director of Innovation and Technology Development and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology of PolyU, which aims to develop an automated, accurate and cost-effective point-of-care diagnostic system to simultaneously detect over 30 pathogens causing respiratory diseases through collaborative support from Professor KY Yuen and his team at HKU, and an industrial partner.
The teams from the two universities will continue to collaborate, with the supports from the Foundation, and will actively work together with the industry to research and develop products that will help the clinical management of patients with acute respiratory viral infections, from diagnostics, vaccines, vaccine adjuvants, to treatment. It is hoped that this collaboration will help support the translational research initiatives in Hong Kong.
The Foundation would like to thank the generous donations from:
D. H. Chen Foundation (Nan Fung Group)
Madam Yat-Wah Fong & Shaw Foundation
Mr Pony Ma
The University of Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Macau Henry Fok Foundation
Stanley Ho Medical Foundation
Professor Terence Lau
Adjunct Professor of the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology
Telephone: (852) 3400 2806
Email : [email protected]