An aptamer research project led by Professor Lyu Aiping, Director of Guangdong-Hong Kong- Macao Greater Bay Area International Research Platform for Aptamer-based Translational Medicine and Drug Discovery (HKAP), Dean of the School of Chinese Medicine and the Dr. Kennedy Y.H. Wong Endowed Chair of Chinese Medicine, has been awarded a grant of HK$50 million from the Theme-based Research Scheme 2020/21 of the Research Grants Council. The project received the highest funding amount among the seven projects supported by the Scheme this year.
Our project is entitled “Aptamer: Molecular Insight & Translational Theranostics”. Regarding the HK$50 million grant, HK$45 million in funding will come from the RGC, with the remaining amount provided by HKBU.
Aptamers are biomolecules capable of binding to specific target molecules. They are promising agents in both diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Despite major efforts in aptamer research and development over the past two decades, only one aptamer has been approved for clinical use so far.
With leading experts from Hong Kong, mainland China and the US on board, the team has set itself on a mission to optimise the methodology for aptamer selection. The researchers also hope to deepen our understanding of the mechanism of aptamer-target interactions, and develop novel aptamer-based strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Project Title: Aptamer: Molecular Insight & Translational Theranostics
Project Coordinator: Prof Aiping Lyu (HKBU)
Impact to the research field, society and economy
The project will provide novel aptamer-based research methods and directions for cancer theranostics in short-term. The pharmaceutical industries could develop new drug screening devices, develop new early diagnostic device and new drugs without side effects against cancer in mid-term. Cancer patients can be diagnosed at very early stages and receive safe and reliable drug treatment in long-term.
· Automated screening devices for aptamer drugs
· Aptamer-based early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
· Aptamer-based drugs against pancreatic cancer with high safety