(Third from left) Fu Danyang, Ip Cheuk-long, Cheng Ka-lok, Chiang Yiu-chun, Shang Wenbin, Chung Yan-lung and Chan Hei-lok explain how the therapeutic detector works on cancer cells through the use of drama


(左三起)付丹陽、葉焯朗、鄭家樂、蔣耀進、尚文濱、鍾忻龍和陳希樂利用話劇解釋診斷劑如何對付癌細胞

Date: 20 Nov 2014 (Thursday)

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HKBU students’ design of cancer cell therapeutic detector wins Silver Project award at biomolecular design competition

浸大生設計癌細胞治療診斷劑     國際生物分子設計比賽奪銀獎

Seven students from HKBU designed and fabricated a DNA origami agent that is capable of diagnosis, drug delivery and monitoring of therapeutic response, revealing a promising potential to develop personalised medicine to treat cancer based on structural DNA nanotechnology. The design won a Silver Project award at the 2014 International Bio-molecular Design Competition (BIOMOD 2014) in the US held from 1 to 2 November. The HKBU team is the only winning team from Hong Kong among 30 competing teams from around the world this year.
 
The team’s experiment showed that DNA origami can carry conjugated components, namely graphene quantum dot (a fluorescent imaging agent), chlorambucil (an anticancer drug) and folic acid (a common targeting agent for cancer cells) to tumor cells they are programmed to target, without imposing significant harm to healthy cells nearby. The results reveal a potential targeted therapy for cancer.
 
The students are Chan Hei-lok (Applied Biology, Year 3), Fu Danyang (Chemistry, Year 3), Ip Cheuk-long (Chinese Medicine and Biomedical Science, Year 4), Cheng Ka-lok (Applied Biology, Year 3), Chiang Yiu-chun (Applied Biology, Year 3), Shang Wenbin (Chinese Medicine and Biomedical Science, Year 4) and Chung Yan-lung (Applied Biology, Year 3). 
 
Team leader Chan Hei-lok said: “This is an unforgettable experience. We had to utilise our knowledge, creativity and communication skills to explore potential applications of novel structural DNA nanotechnology. As we started our project during the summer, we struggled with the design process and the determination of functional requirements.” He thanked the team supervisors and advisors who inspired them and provided support throughout the summer months. 
 
They elaborated on their project idea through a creative script. The team’s cancer cell therapeutic detector which delivers cancer-fighting drugs directly to tumor cells using a fluorescent bio-imaging agent shares similar characteristics with comic book superhero Iron Man. Chan Hei-lok said: “It is rewarding for us to explain complicated ideas in an interesting way through the use of drama. We received a very positive response from the audience during our presentation.”
 
Team members Ip Cheuk-long and Shang Wenbin believe that every student is able to master only a small part of science due to the breadth of the subject. By collaborating with people from different specialties and tapping into each other’s expertise, they successfully carried out a project that was feasible, functional and applicable.
 
Details on the HKBU team’s project can be found at: 
http://openwetware.org/wiki/Biomod/2014/HKBUteam/projectideas

浸大七位學生設計一種集合診斷、藥物輸送和治療為一體的「自摺疊去氧核醣核酸(DNA)」治療診斷劑,有望利用DNA納米技術進一步研發個人化抗癌藥物。該專案於11月1至2日在美國舉行的2014年國際生物分子設計比賽中奪得銀獎。今年,來自世界各地共30支隊伍參賽,浸大隊是比賽中唯一獲獎的香港隊伍。
 
浸大隊的實驗發現「自摺疊DNA」治療診斷劑能夠與石墨烯量子點(一種熒光顯像劑)、苯丁酸氮芥(抗癌藥物)和葉酸(一種常用的腫瘤細胞靶向劑)三種物質結合,可有效將藥物輸送到腫瘤細胞,並且不會破壞附近的健康細胞。這次發現有助日後研發標靶抗癌藥物。
 
隊員包括陳希樂同學(應用生物三年級)、付丹陽同學(化學三年級)、葉焯朗同學(中醫及生物醫學四年級)、鄭家樂同學(應用生物三年級)、蔣耀進同學(應用生物三年級)、尚文濱同學(中醫及生物醫學四年級)和鍾忻龍同學(應用生物三年級)。
 
隊長陳希樂同學說﹕「是次參賽經驗難忘,我們需運用所學、創意和溝通技巧探討嶄新的DNA納米技術的應用。今年暑假開始我們便埋首準備工作,從落實設計到藥物應用,過程非常艱辛。」他感謝多位指導老師及顧問的啟發,以及暑假期間一直為隊伍提供協助。
 
浸大隊利用漫畫英雄人物「鐵甲奇俠」的話劇演繹他們設計的治療診斷劑的概念。當診斷劑偵測到腫瘤細胞時會產生光、進入細胞,對抗腫瘤,這三項特性與「鐵甲奇俠」對付敵人的方法很相似。陳同學說﹕「我們透過有趣的話劇解釋複雜的科學概念,並獲得觀眾的正面回應,隊員都感到鼓舞。」
 
葉焯朗同學和尚文濱同學認為科學是一門很廣的學科,每位同學只能精通當中的一小部分。因此,與來自不同專科的人合作,善用各人的專長,才能令項目順利推行。
 
有關浸大隊伍的專案設計可瀏覽:
http://openwetware.org/wiki/Biomod/2014/HKBUteam/projectideas