Professor Ken Yung (right) and Dr Jeffery Huang (left) jointly invent the award-winning medical device for safe growth of neural stem cells using nanotechnology. Dr Huang is holding a piece of device.


翁建霖教授(右)和黃陟峰博士(左)研發幹細胞納米培養器材,可降低以幹細胞療法治療神經退化疾病的致癌風險。黃博士手持納米培養板。

(Left) A diagram showing neural stem cell differentiation: the neural stem cell placed on the nano-matrix becomes a functional cell; and (right) it shows the structure of the lightning type (“Z” shape) of the nano-matrix.


(左圖)神經幹細胞在團隊發明的納米培養板上分化成為功能細胞﹔(右圖)閃電型(又稱「Z」型)納米層培養板的結構。

Date: 19 Jun 2018 (Tuesday)

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HKBU scholars invent award-winning medical device for safe growth of neural stem cells using nanotechnology

浸大研發幹細胞納米培養器材奪國際發明展金獎 降低以幹細胞療法治療神經退化疾病的致癌風險

The HKBU research team invented a medical device with a specific nanotechnology layer for the proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs) in vitro. Compared with traditional methods, the team’s novel matrix can reduce the risk of carcinogenesis or inflammation in stem cell therapy – a treatment that offers hope of a cure for incurable diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, chronic systemic diseases and degenerative joint diseases. This pioneering invention won the team the Gold Medal with Congratulations of Jury at the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva held in Switzerland in April 2018. The application for a US patent has been filed.

The team was jointly led by Professor Ken Yung Kin-lam of the Department of Biology and Associate Professor Dr Jeffery Huang Zhifeng of the Department of Physics.

Professor Ken Yung said, “With the global population aging rapidly, neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease) are regarded as the main threat and burden to global healthcare. Recently, scientists have turned their focus on cell replacement therapies, including stem cell therapy, which have shown huge promise in treating neurodegenerative diseases. Stem cell therapy is a treatment using stem cells to cultivate new and normal cells, tissues or organs and then transplanted to people to restore physiological function by replacing damaged or dead cells.”

“Traditional methods for proliferation and differentiation of NSCs require a large number of additional growth factors in a culture medium, which are kinds of polypeptides and can regulate many aspects of cellular function that may stimulate the growth of cancer cells and increase the risk of developing tumours in vivo after transplantation.” Professor Yung added.

Dr Jeffery Huang said that the layer of nanostructure of their new invention is made of biocompatible materials, and avoids the use of additional growth factor or other biochemical for cultivating cells. After growth and cell differentiation, it is hoped that the mature cell can turn into a therapeutic agent for stem cell therapy.

Dr Huang said, “The NSCs are under ‘physical massage’ when they come into physiological contact with the matrix we developed. Owing to the appropriate design and choice of materials and structure of the matrix, the ‘physical massage’ resembles the Chinese medicine acupuncture technique which causes the cells to differentiate into functional cells that are in urgent demand in cell replacement therapy to treat neurodegenerative diseases, cancers and tumours. Importantly, the physical massage, which minimises the use of growth factors, should substantially reduce the risk of carcinogenesis in clinical trials.”

Professor Ken Yung said, “The novel matrix enables scientists to cultivate NSCs by adopting the usual method, however with the added advantage of organic compounds (like Polylysine and Polyornithine) being excluded from the process, thereby reducing the potential risk of carcinogenesis or inflammation in stem cell therapy. It could provide a safe platform for research into stem cell therapies using the latest, novel nanotechnology, and also help boost the development of regenerative medicine.”

Making use of the proprietary invention, the team has established Mat-A-Cell Limited with the aim of providing an advanced device to research institutions and companies that develop cell therapy.

For more details, please refer to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-Hi-fusocY

浸大生物系翁建霖教授和物理系副教授黃陟峰博士共同率領的研究團隊,發明了「幹細胞納米培養器材」,用於幹細胞療法中培養神經幹細胞。與傳統培養方法相比,新發明可以降低幹細胞療法中致癌或炎症的潛在風險,有助應用神經幹細胞治療神經退化疾病、慢性疾病和退化性關節炎。該項發明在2018年4月在瑞士舉行的第46屆日內瓦國際發明展上獲得評判嘉許特別金獎,團隊並已為發明申請美國專利。

翁建霖教授說:「隨着全球老年人口的大幅增長,神經退化疾病(例如腦退化症、柏金遜症)將成為全球醫療保健的主要威脅和負擔。最近,細胞替代治療,包括幹細胞療法,已經快速發展成為最有希望治療神經退化疾病的方法。幹細胞療法是指通過利用對幹細胞進行體外培養、增值、誘導分化等,培養出新的、正常的細胞或組織,移植到體內代替損壞或死亡的細胞,從而恢復機體功能。」

「然而,傳統的神經幹細胞體外培養方法,需要添加多種生長因子用於促進幹細胞的增殖與特異性分化。生長因子是一類具有調控細胞生存、增殖、分化等功能的多肽類有機物,殘留的生長因子可能刺激細胞非正常地生長,在進行體內移植後具有成瘤風險。」翁教授說。

黃陟峰博士說:「我們發明的培養器材是一種鍍有特定納米層的培養板,在不需要額外添加生長因子或其他化學試劑的情況下,用於體外幹細胞培養及分化至所需神經元。神經幹細胞停留在我們發明的基板上時,與納米層有生理接觸而受到『物理按摩』。鑑於納米層的材料和結構的適當設計,『物理按摩』如中醫的穴位針刺手法,引導幹細胞特定分化為在細胞替代治療中迫切需要的功能細胞,以治療神經退化性疾病,癌症和腫瘤。重要的是在使用最少量生長因子的情况下,透過物理性刺激的原理,新器材應可大大減少患者在臨床測試中致癌的風險。」

翁教授表示,新發明幫助科學家以常用的方法,毋須加入有機化合物(如聚賴氨酸和聚鳥氨酸)就可培養神經幹細胞,具有最小的致癌性。此項最新穎的納米技術將為醫療保健研究和幹細胞治療提供安全平台,亦有助推動再生醫學的發展。

就此項嶄新的發明,團隊已成立邁踏生物科技有限公司,預期為世界各地的研究機構和幹細胞療法研究公司提供先進設備。

更多詳情可瀏覽:https://youtu.be/YBSBbHcyfUc