The HKBU research team: (From left) Professor Zhang Ge, Dr Liang Chao, Miss Wang Luyao and Professor Lyu Aiping


浸大研究團隊:(左起)張戈教授、梁超博士、王璐瑤小姐和呂愛平教授

(From left) Miss Wang Luyao, Professor Zhang Ge and Dr Liang Chao witness the launch of Tianzhou-1 at the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in Hainan


(左起)王璐瑤小姐、張戈教授和梁超博士在海南文昌航天發射中心見證天舟一號發射升空

In vivo osteoblast-specific delivery of CKIP-1 siRNA could improve bone formation and increase bone mass of aged rats dramatically


特異性遞送CKIP-1小干擾核酸到成骨細胞,可以顯著促進老年大鼠骨形成並且增加骨量

Date: 16 May 2017 (Tuesday)

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HKBU Chinese medicine scholars conduct research on space life science on board China’s spacecraft Tianzhou-1

浸大中醫團隊參與「天舟一號」太空生命科學研究

The School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) is conducting a space life science study on board China’s first cargo spacecraft, Tianzhou-1, which was launched last month. HKBU is the only higher education institution from outside of Mainland to conduct a scientific research project onboard Tianzhou-1.

The HKBU team investigates the effect of the “CKIP-1” gene on bone formation under microgravity conditions in space. Under microgravity, bone loss is several times faster than on Earth, posing a serious health threat to astronauts, who therefore cannot stay in space for long periods of time. The HKBU team hopes that this study can lead to the formulation of a set of protective measures and treatment strategies as well as the discovery of new drugs to prevent or treat bone loss resulting from space travel. It could also serve as reference for the development of health care and therapeutics for the ageing population.

The HKBU team is led by Professor Lyu Aiping, Dean of Chinese Medicine and Director of the Law Sau Fai Institute for Advancing Translational Medicine in Bone and Joint Diseases (TMBJ), and Professor Zhang Ge, Associate Director of TMBJ, Associate Director of SCM’s Teaching and Research Division, and Director of the Technology Development Division, with Post-doctoral Research Fellow Dr Liang Chao and Senior Research Assistant Miss Wang Luyao as team members.

Professor Lyu Aiping said this is another important contribution made by HKBU to the Mainland’s major scientific research initiatives after its participation in the first deep-sea expedition of the manned submersible Jiaolong in 2013. This new contribution not only recognises HKBU’s and Hong Kong’s research strength in related areas, but also is a great source of encouragement to members of the Chinese medicine and higher education sectors.

Professor Zhang Ge said the quality of research of TMBJ on bone and joint has reached the top international level. TMBJ members have in recent years published a number of research papers in prestigious academic journals such as Nature Communication and Nature Medicine. He hopes their project can bring a breakthrough in this related area of research.

The “CKIP-1” gene in osteoblast (bone forming cell) could specifically interact with “Smurf1” genes in the cells to inhibit cell activity, thereby slowing down or hindering bone formation. The research team led by Professor Lyu and Professor Zhang further found that the aberrant elevated “CKIP-1” expression in osteoblasts could inhibit bone formation and contribute to the reduction in bone formation during ageing as well as in the development of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Nevertheless, the function of “CKIP-1” on the process of bone formation reduction caused by microgravity in space is still not yet known. The team has placed osteoblast in which “CKIP-1” genes were silenced on board the Tianzhou-1 for further research and is monitoring the effects of “CKIP-1” on osteoblast.

To prepare for the launch of Tianzhou-1, Dr Liang Chao and Miss Wang Luyao of the HKBU team participated in a number of life science experiments at ground level organised by the National Space Science and Application Centre of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. These experiments included simulated vibration tests, bio-compatibility tests and simulated microgravity experiments as well as systematic matching experiments and rehearsals. Tianzhou-1 was launched at the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in Hainan.

Entitled “Research on the impact that microgravity has on the proliferation and differentiation of cells”, the space life science study on Tianzhou-1 is led by Northwestern Polytechnical University in collaboration with HKBU, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, and the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The project consists of eight sub-projects and HKBU is responsible for the “CKIP-1” one.

中醫藥學院研究團隊目前正於在上月升空的中國首艘貨運飛船「天舟一號」上,進行一項太空生命科學實驗。浸大是唯一獲選參與「天舟一號」科學實驗的大陸境外院校。

浸大的項目是研究在太空微重力環境中,「CKIP-1」基因對成骨細胞分化的影響。在太空微重力狀態下,骨質流失速度比在地面上快數倍,對太空人的健康構成極大影響,令他們不能長期在太空停留。浸大團隊期望這項研究能夠為太空人提供一套防護的理論基礎和治療策略。此外,相關研究對開發預防或治療由微重力環境導致骨質流失的藥物具有重要意義,也可作為研發人口老化的醫療或保健藥物的參考。

浸大研究團隊由中醫藥學院院長兼羅守輝骨與關節疾病轉化醫學研究所所長呂愛平教授,以及研究所副所長、學院教學科研部副主任兼技術開發部主任張戈教授領導,成員包括博士後研究學人梁超博士和高級研究助理王璐瑤小姐。

呂愛平教授表示,這次是浸會大學繼2013年參與載人深潛器蛟龍號的深海研究後,再次獲邀參與內地重大創新科研項目,不但肯定了浸大和本港在相關課題研究上的重要貢獻,也是對本港中醫藥界和學術界的一大鼓舞。

張戈教授表示,浸大中醫藥學院的羅守輝骨與關節疾病轉化醫學研究所在骨與關節方面的研究達國際頂尖水平,近年已有多篇論文刊登在國際著名學術期刊,例如《自然通訊》和《自然醫學》,他期望這次研究能在相關領域帶來更大的突破。

成骨細胞內的「CKIP-1」基因可特異性的與「Smurf1」基因產生相互作用,抑制成骨細胞的活性,從而減慢或妨礙骨形成。在此基礎上,呂教授與張教授的研究團隊進一步研究發現,成骨細胞「CKIP-1」基因在老年人增齡性成骨能力下降過程中,以及糖皮質激素導致的成骨能力下降過程中表達顯著升高,並且抑制骨形成,然而「CKIP-1」在太空微重力環境導致的骨形成能力下降過程中的作用仍然未知。研究團隊將通過這個研究項目探討在太空微重力環境下,「CKIP-1」基因沉默對成骨細胞礦化作用的影響(即使成骨細胞中的「CKIP-1」基因低表達)。研究團隊已將「CKIP-1」基因穩定低表達的成骨細胞送上「天舟一號」,從而監控「CKIP-1」對成骨細胞的影響。

為了為「天舟一號」發射升空做準備,浸大團隊成員梁超博士和王璐瑤小姐早前參加了由中國科學院空間科學與應用總體部舉辦的多次生命科學實驗專案組地基模擬振動實驗、生物相容性實驗、地基模擬微重力實驗,並於海南文昌航太發射中心進行了為期近一個半月的整體匹配實驗及發射前演練實驗。

在「天舟一號」上進行的太空生命科學實驗項目題為「微重力對細胞增殖和分化影響研究」,由西北工業大學牽頭,聯同浸會大學、清華大學、浙江大學、軍事醫學科學院基礎醫學研究所與中國科學院動物研究所合作進行。項目共有八個子課題,浸大獨自承擔「CKIP-1」基因對成骨細胞分化影響的項目。