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PolyU to launch three research centres under InnoHK Clusters

In support of the Hong Kong government’s new initiative, InnoHK Clusters, which aims to develop Hong Kong as a hub for global research collaboration, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has joined forces with world-leading institutions to develop research centres under two newly established research clusters – AIR@InnoHK (focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies) and Health@InnoHK (focusing on healthcare related technologies), in a bid to bring together leading researchers from around the world to conduct impactful collaborative research in Hong Kong.

11 Oct, 2021

Research & Innovation Research and Innovation Office

Statement by the Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM)

The Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM) welcomes the various new initiatives announced by the Chief Executive in the 2021 Policy Address to further enhance the competitiveness of the higher education sector in Hong Kong and to support the development of Hong Kong into an international innovation & technology hub. The Committee believes that with these new initiatives, the UGC-funded universities in Hong Kong will be able to scale new heights in their pursuit of research and educational excellence, talent development, and to support the socio-economic development of Hong Kong as part of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as well as the development of the nation and the world.

6 Oct, 2021

Others

PolyU welcomes 2021 Policy Address initiatives on education, innovation and technology

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) welcomes the Chief Executive’s initiatives in the 2021 Policy Address that charted a roadmap to build a brighter future for Hong Kong in collaboration with all sectors of the community. The initiatives outlined in the Policy Address will enable Hong Kong to turn a new chapter by leveraging on the central government’s favourable policies and the city’s unique advantages. PolyU is grateful towards the current administration’s staunch support in nurturing talents and promoting innovation and technology, particularly its investments of more than HK$130 billion in innovation and technology over the past four years, as well as the development of a more comprehensive innovation and technology ecosystem. These have made innovation and technology a new impetus for the city’s economy. Dr LAM Tai-fai, Chairman of Council of PolyU, said: “This year’s Policy Address deserves our praise. It is forward-looking, comprehensive, visionary and underscores the Government’s astuteness. Despite the headwinds and grave challenges in the past four years, Chief Executive Mrs Carrie Lam has displayed her resolve in correcting any shortcomings, and her efforts have been approved and supported by the central government.” Dr Lam said this Policy Address demonstrated that the Chief Executive has seized the tremendous opportunities presented by the Nation’s 14th Five-year Plan and the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), at a time when the “One Country, Two Systems” principle is being restored in the wake of the enactment of the national security law and changes to the electoral system in Hong Kong. Dr Lam added that: “with the comprehensive and correct implementation of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, I believe the Chief Executive will lead Hong Kong in embarking on a new venture through this Policy Address, seizing new opportunities and taking the city forward. I am sure the Policy Address initivatives will also bring about long term prosperity and stability, and help solve deep-rooted social problems.” He thanked the Chief Executive for recognising PolyU’s contribution to the Nation’s space programmes in the Policy Address, and is particularly grateful to the Government for supporting the University in exploring the new use of its Hung Hom Bay Campus for academic and research development. In the Policy Address, the Government set out initiatives including the provision of additional land for innovation and technology use, the setting up of an InnoLife Healthtech Hub, and other measures to promote the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong. The Government also announced initiatives to encourage young people to pursue careers in research and innovation, and to support them in participating in the Nation’s development. Professor Jin-Guang TENG, President of PolyU, said: “PolyU is encouraged by the Government’s commitment in promoting the development of innovation and technology, which will enable local universities to give full play to Hong Kong’s edge in scientific research.” Besides the two state key laboratories, PolyU has set up a number of inter-disciplinary research institutes in areas including advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, smart cities, smart energy, as well as land and space. Its new Research Centre for Chinese Medicine Innovation will be dedicated to the advancement of the GBA’s basic, applied and translational research on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Meanwhile, PolyU is actively supporting several research clusters of the Government’s flagship InnoHK project. The University is pleased about the Government’s continuous increase in local healthcare training places. The new PolyU teaching facility under construction at Ho Man Tin is expected to be completed by 2026, which will enable the University to nurture more future healthcare professionals for Hong Kong. PolyU also welcomes the Government initiatives to invite the University Grants Committee to assess the supply of and demand for UGC-funded research postgraduate places, as well as the relaxation of the over-enrolment ceiling for these places. PolyU believes these will help the University in nurturing more high-calibre research talents. Regarding the Global STEM Professorship scheme introduced in last year’s Policy Address, PolyU has been very supportive and has actively participated in the scheme, resulting in a number of scholars being hired. The University will continue to strengthen its efforts in attracting global talents in innovation and technology to work in the GBA. In conclusion, Professor Teng said: “In the next academic year, we will reform our undergraduate programme to strengthen education in artificial intelligence, data analytics, innovation and entrepreneurship, while enhancing our support to students’ entrepreneurial endeavours in the GBA. We believe these efforts will promote technological innovation and nurture young research talents for the region. Furthermore, PolyU has been committed to offering holistic education, and has been emphasising both integrity and professional excellence as our educational objective, with integrity coming first. We strive to nurture more future talents that are socially responsible, dedicated to Hong Kong and the Nation, and with a global outlook. Looking forward, PolyU will make greater contributions to Hong Kong, the GBA and the Nation, through supporting the Government’s efforts in developing the GBA and promoting innovation and technology; and advancing our initiatives in education, research collaboration and knowledge transfer in the GBA.”   ***End***

6 Oct, 2021

Others Communications and Public Affairs Office

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PolyU holds flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) today held a flag-raising ceremony on campus in celebration of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

1 Oct, 2021

Events

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PolyU signs MoU with three strategic partners in support of “GBA PolyVentures 2025”

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) today signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with three strategic partners to further propel the “GBA PolyVentures 2025” blueprint laid down by the University to leverage PolyU’s experience in innovation and entrepreneurship education to provide the necessary support for nurturing deep tech ventures and accelerating their growth. The collaboration also aims to translate research excellence into societal impact to contribute to the development of innovation and technology in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). The MoU were signed between PolyU and its strategic partners, namely Everbright Limited, StartupHK Fund and Hai Robotics. Dr Lawrence Li Kwok-chang PolyU’s Deputy Council Chairman In his welcoming remarks at the signing ceremony, Dr Lawrence Li Kwok-chang, PolyU’s Deputy Council Chairman, said, “The signing of the MoU between PolyU and its strategic partners echoes with the needs of our Nation and leverages the strengths of PolyU and other parties in working together for the development of innovation and technology in the GBA. Hai Robotics, one of our strategic partners today, was nurtured under PolyU’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and has recently become a unicorn.” Hai Robotics is a start-up that provides autonomous case-handling robotic systems. It was founded in 2016 by 2012 graduate Mr Richie Chen and 2014 graduate Mr Bing Fang of PolyU’s Department of Electronic and Information Engineering. The start-up witnessed rapid growth by making use of the manufacturing advantages of the GBA and benefitting from the enormous opportunities of the Mainland China market. Hai Robotics announced last week that it has completed two rounds of financing garnering US$200 million in total, and its valuation has exceeded US$1 billion. Mr Alfred Sit The Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government The Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, Mr Alfred Sit, commended the GBA PolyVentures 2025. He said that the National 14th Five-year Plan indicates clear support for Hong Kong’s development into an international I&T hub and integration into the overall development of the country. The deepening collaboration with the Mainland, active participation in the development of the GBA and the integration into the nation’s development are pivotal to the future innovation and technology development in Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government has all along attached great importance to university-industry-research collaboration. It is hoped that the synergies generated can enhance the innovation power in Hong Kong, drive the innovation and technology development in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and contribute to national innovation and achieve high-quality technological self-reliance. Professor Jin-Guang Teng PolyU’s President PolyU’s President, Professor Jin-Guang Teng, said, “In order to further promote the development of research and entrepreneurship in the GBA and to nurture future research talents to address the market needs, PolyU continues to collaborate closely with industry partners through ‘GBA PolyVentures 2025’, providing comprehensive support for start-ups in different stages from education and incubation, to accelerating and strengthening their development. The goal is to distil more than 300 seed stage innovation start-ups into at least 20 deep tech ventures each year and to nurture 25 impactful scale-ups in the GBA in the next few years through collaboration with strategic partners and various supporting initiatives.” According to the MoU, PolyU and Hai Robotics will explore establishing a joint innovation centre to promote PolyU’s education in innovation and entrepreneurship, nurture talents in “New Engineering”, and conduct applied research in robotics-related topics. PolyU and Everbright Limited will invest resources to help start-ups develop through collaboration between technology and industry, provide support to promising research projects, and roll out an internship programme for nurturing innovation talents. PolyU and StartupHK Fund will co-invest in PolyU’s start-ups and help them enter the GBA market as well as launch initiatives to strengthen entrepreneurship education. PolyU is also committed to providing high-quality education that keeps pace with the times and meets societal needs. The University will implement departmental scheme-based admissions from the 2022/23 academic year onwards, introducing two new elements of “Artificial Intelligence and Data Analysis” and “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. In addition, PolyU established the College of Undergraduate Researchers and Innovators and Residential College to encourage undergraduate students to conduct scientific research under the guidance of PolyU’s professors. These initiatives are all designed to inspire students’ scientific curiosity and enhance their innovation capabilities. PolyU places high importance on nurturing technology ventures. PolyU recently signed an MoU with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) to kick off pre-incubation at university through the PolyU Micro Fund Scheme 2.0, which provides six months of entrepreneurship training to help entrepreneurial projects enter HKSTP’s start-up incubation programme directly. In addition, PolyU has launched two key programmes that leverage on the unique advantages of the technology and innovation ecosystem in the GBA. The first is PolyU’s GBA Startup Postdoc Programme targeted at PhD graduates who are determined to start their own businesses. Under dual academic and industrial mentorship, participants can simultaneously continue with their research and start their own business for commercialisation of their research outputs. Since the launch of the programme over a year ago, six PhD students have won nine awards in total. Six start-ups have been established to receive post-incubation support; some of them have even received angel investment. PolyU will extend the programme to both Shenzhen and Hong Kong to attract more technology and innovation talents to develop in the GBA. The second key programme is the GBA Maker Programme for hardware start-ups. PolyU makes full use of its unique advantages and facilities in manufacturing engineering, such as PolyU’s Industrial Centre, to combine Hong Kong's edge in innovation technology and the manufacturing capabilities of the GBA to nurture top-notch hardware start-ups. Through “GBA PolyVentures 2025”, PolyU aims to systematically accelerate the growth of start-ups through education and incubation and ultimately contribute to the development of innovation and technology in the GBA by deepening the collaboration with strategic partners and leveraging their resources, experience and network, with the support of PolyU’s new “Entrepreneurship Investment Fund”.   ***** END *****

30 Sep, 2021

Events Knowledge Transfer and Entrepreneurship Office

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PolyU Undergraduate Info Day 2021 to be held on 9 October offering updated information including the new departmental scheme-based admissions arrangement from the 2022/23 academic year

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) will hold the Undergraduate Info Day (Info Day) face-to-face and online on 9 October 2021 (Saturday). The Info Day will provide students with the most up-to-date information about PolyU full-time undergraduate programmes. A broad range of activities, such as admission seminars, programme seminars, virtual booths, student sharing, guided tours and consultations with PolyU academic staff, will be arranged to help prospective students make an informed choice about their future academic pursuits at the University. Departmental scheme-based admissions to be implemented from the 2022/23 academic year onwards Starting from the 2022/23 academic year, PolyU will adopt departmental scheme-based admissions to provide a more flexible progression pathway for students in order to meet changing societal needs. The new arrangement will provide greater flexibility for students in their choice of degree programmes and specialisations. Furthermore, two new elements, namely "Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics"(AIDA) and "Innovation and Entrepreneurship"(IE), will be incorporated into the undergraduate programme curriculum from the 2022/23 academic year. At the end of the first academic year, students can choose to take a Secondary Major in either AIDA or IE if these options are available in their scheme, or opt for a Minor in one of the two subject areas. To encourage undergraduate students to undertake research, PolyU also launched the “Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scheme” (URIS) in the summer of 2021, providing funding for participating students to conduct scientific research projects. PolyU will also provide other supports such as auto admission to the College of Undergraduate Researchers and Innovators (CURI), priority in the allocation of hostel places and access to related research seminars and sharing sessions. The flexibility towards the minimum score requirement for JUPAS admissions will be continued, including for special talents with outstanding non-academic achievements such as sports talents under the Outstanding Sportsmen Recommendation Schemes (OSRS). Students who fall slightly short of the general entrance requirements for degree programmes (i.e. with one HKDSE subject result falling one level below the required level - “3-3-2-2-3-3” - level 3 in both languages and level 2 in Mathematics and Liberal Studies together with level 3 in two additional electives) will be given special consideration for admission. The School Nominations Direct Admission Scheme (SNDAS) will be introduced in 2022/23, which aims at recognizing the exceptional talent of students in specific disciplines that may not be fully assessed by the HKDSE Examination with opportunities to be considered for direct admission to local universities. Secondary school principals are invited to submit their nominations to PolyU via an online system between 6 October and 8 December. The PolyU Undergraduate Info Day 2021 will start at 9:30 a.m. and run until 5:30 p.m. on 9 October. Highlights of the event include: two JUPAS admissions talks for Secondary Six students; two admissions talks for non-JUPAS applicants with international qualifications or sub-degree qualifications; around 70 programme seminars organized by various academic faculties, schools and departments; around 30 guided tours to various laboratories or facilities; and student sharing and consultation sessions arranged by the Academic Registry and academic departments. Online registration is required for participating in the Info Day. To register and get more information, please visit: www.polyu.edu.hk/infoday/ Undergraduate admission in 2021/22 academic year Among PolyU’s full-time public-funded undergraduate programmes offered in 2021/22, “Scheme in Design” was the most popular, being chosen by 575 JUPAS applicants as their first choice. “Hotel Management” and “Nursing” placed second and third, attracting 435 and 397 applicants respectively. More than 91% of PolyU admittees this year chose the University’s programmes as their Band A choices. Among JUPAS applicants admitted in 2021/22, the average score for the Best 5 DSE subjects is 24.0. Among the undergraduates admitted in 2021/22, 331 scored at least 5** in one subject or with an aggregate DSE score of 32 or above for the Best 5 subjects, with both Chinese and English at level 3 or above, in the DSE examination, attaining a notable admissions profile. Details of the average DSE scores for PolyU’s 2021/22 admittees will be released by 9 October 2021 at Study@PolyU (http://www51.polyu.edu.hk/eprospectus/ug/jupas).   ***** End *****

28 Sep, 2021

Events Academic Registry

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PolyU strengthens community COVID-19 prevention and rehabilitation with Health and Medical Research Fund studies

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) received HK$55.9 million in funding from the government’s Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) for new studies that aim to better prepare Hong Kong for the recovery stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The multi-disciplinary studies range from exploring a new holistic approach in preventing infection and enhancing recovery, to developing more effective strategies in strengthening community-level protection against the coronavirus, especially for vulnerable groups. The studies will engage and collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders in the community. The new studies follow the previous round of HMRF backed COVID-19 research conducted by PolyU, several of which have yielded impactful outputs that have contributed to better informed public health measures and responses, while other ongoing studies are making good progress. Professor Wing-tak WONG, Deputy President and Provost of PolyU, said the dedication of PolyU’s researchers has led to substantial research output on COVID-19, particularly in areas like rapid diagnostics, transmission tracing, and outbreak trend forecasting. The University is grateful to the Food and Health Bureau for supporting and approving PolyU’s research efforts. “We are also honoured to be invited by the Bureau again this year to submit COVID-19 research proposals. This gives PolyU the opportunity to leverage our multi-disciplinary research strength, especially in the areas of social sciences, health, and nursing, to support the government’s anti-pandemic efforts,” Professor Wong said. Among the findings of the previous round of HMRF financed studies conducted by PolyU, Professor Elsie YAN Chau-wai, Associate Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences, examined public compliance with disease prevention measures to control COVID-19 using a two-wave 6-month longitudinal study. The study shed light on the reception of vaccines among different population segments and the findings were published in the internationally renowned journal Vaccines. In addition, the rapid whole-genome sequencing technique developed by Dr Gilman SIU Kit-hang, Associate Professor of Department of Health Technology and Informatics, has played an important role in identifying and stopping transmission chains in Hong Kong, including those of variant strains. Professor David SHUM, Dean of Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, said these HMRF backed studies demonstrate PolyU’s strength in producing research that addresses societal challenges and creates a positive impact, particularly with respect to anti-pandemic efforts in the community. “The new studies supported by HMRF in its latest round of funding underscore the Fund’s approval of PolyU’s research capability,” Professor Shum said. “The novel coronavirus pandemic might have stabilized, but it is far from finished. There are new variants that continue to pose new threats, prevention is still a priority area that we need to work on; while the growing number of COVID-19 survivors also calls for better understanding of and strategies for their long-term rehabilitation needs.” In the third and latest round of HMRF COVID-19 studies announced this month by the government’s Food and Health Bureau and the Research Council, PolyU’s large multi-disciplinary research studies led by Professor Alex MOLASIOTIS, Chair Professor of Nursing and Head of School of Nursing, were granted HK$27.6 million. The studies will explore “a community-based participatory research approach to reduce the COVID-19 risk in Hong Kong: developing and testing social and behavioural interventions”. Another set of large multi-disciplinary research studies led by Professor David MAN, Associate Head of Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, were awarded HK$28.3 million. The studies will explore “the Prevention-Protection-Promotion approach as a novel and effective strategy to prevent infection and enhance recovery in individuals with COVID-19”. These research studies will address comprehensive follow-up of novel coronavirus survivors and their caregivers’ physical and mental wellness and long-term health issues; social and behavioural interventions to reduce the spread of infection; and the development of novel and effective strategies to enhance recovery and implementation models to prevent such infection. PolyU welcomes public participation in the two new studies and interested community members and groups can contact the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences on telephone numbers 3400 3184 or 3400 3973, or by sending an email to fhss.community@polyu.edu.hk.   ***End***

27 Sep, 2021

Achievements Faculty of Health and Social Sciences

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PolyU to enhance undergraduate curriculum from the 2022/23 academic year onwards, strengthening students with diverse capabilities to meet future societal needs

Given the emergence of Industry 4.0 as a key trend that is shaping the future, innovation and technology have become the new driving force for the economy of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area. In addition to acquiring professional knowledge, young people are required to master the skills needed by contemporary society and to possess an entrepreneurial spirit, in order to demonstrate diverse strengths such as creativity and problem-solving capability on different occasions. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is committed to providing high-quality education that keeps pace with the times. To better equip our students for societal needs, the University will fully implement departmental scheme-based admissions from the 2022/23 academic year onwards, thus providing students with more flexible study options and helping them to enhance their competitiveness. Starting from the 2022/23 academic year, the new departmental scheme-based arrangement will be applied to all programmes (except for some specialised programmes such as Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Nursing). Under the new arrangement, when students apply to PolyU, they will first select a scheme from a department. Upon enrolling to the University, students only need to undertake the common courses of the department in their first academic year. They will then select their Major in the second academic year. This will offer them more time to gain a better understanding about their own interests and aspirations, so as to make the most suitable choice in selecting their Major. Furthermore, two new elements, namely “Artificial Intelligence and Data Analysis” (AIDA) and “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” (IE), will be incorporated into the General University Requirement (GUR) from the next academic year. All undergraduate students must complete at least 2 credits of the AIDA courses and at least 1 credit of the IE courses within their 4-year study period to fulfil the minimum requirements for graduation. Under the departmental scheme-based arrangement, students can choose to take a secondary Major in AIDA and IE. They are required to complete at least 66 credits for their primary Major, and at least 36 credits should be from AIDA or IE. The former includes Artificial Intelligence, Programming and other related subjects; while the latter features initiatives such as a 12-week company attachment and visits to the Greater Bay Area to learn about the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In addition, they must also acquire 30 credits from the GUR, totalling at least 132 credits to meet the graduation requirement. Students can also opt for a Minor in either AIDA or IE by taking 18 credits from the chosen subject area. PolyU’s Vice President (Education), Prof. Kwok-yin WONG, said that by enhancing the undergraduate curriculum, PolyU aims to provide students with more flexible and customised programmes to meet societal needs. He explained, “University education aims to nuture future-ready leaders for society. We hope PolyU graduates will not only gain solid academic knowledge, but also have the diverse strengths that are essential for the future development of society. Therefore, PolyU is keen to promote a series of strategies to enhance the undergraduate curriculum in this respect, to be fully implemented in the next academic year. I believe these initiatives will help students acquire vital interdisciplinary knowledge, and also equip them with creative thinking to cope with the rapid changes in our world.” To encourage undergraduate students to undertake research, PolyU launched the “Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scheme” (URIS) in the summer of 2021, providing funding for participating students to conduct scientific research projects. Students can submit applications individually or in groups, and each approved project will receive funding ranging from HK$50,000 to HK$100,000. Since the launch of the scheme, more than 110 projects have been approved, covering different research fields including Applied Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, etc. A total of more than HK$ 5 million in funding has been granted so far. In addition to research funding, PolyU will also provide additional types of support to participants, such as guidance on research, as well as auto admission to the College of Undergraduate Researchers and Innovators (CURI). They will furthermore be given priority in the allocation of hostel places at PolyU’s new Residential College in the Homantin Student Halls of Residence, and will be provided access to seminars and sharing sessions on different topics with resident researchers. Prof. Daniel SHEK, Associate Vice President (Undergraduate Programme) of PolyU, said: “Through the scheme, we hope to strengthen students’ curiosity in academic research and nurture the next generation of researchers. The first cohort of the scheme was launched in the summer of 2021, and drew a positive response with close to 250 applications. Among the more than 140 proposals received, over 80% were approved. We are pleased to see students demonstrate interest and enthusiasm in scientific research, and we hope they can learn from the experience and acquire knowledge to lay a solid foundation for their future career in research.” PolyU will hold an Undergraduate Education Info day on 9 October 2021 (Saturday) to provide students with the latest information about its full-time undergraduate programmes, and will share further details of the new departmental scheme-based arrangement. For more details of the PolyU “Undergraduate Education Info Day 2021”, please visit: www.polyu.edu.hk/infoday/   ***** End *****

20 Sep, 2021

Teaching & Learning

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PolyU develops groundbreaking and highly effective targeted osteoarthritis pain reliever

Researchers at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have developed a groundbreaking, imaging-guided nanoparticle photothermal treatment for osteoarthritis pain, utilising the concept of targeted cancer therapy but instead applied to the protein that initiates pain signaling along the nervous system. The novel targeted osteoarthritis pain theranostics, which offer both diagnostics and therapeutics, are made of gold nanorods coated with a two-dimensional nanomaterial, molybdenum disulfide. The coated nanorods are further fused with antibodies directed against the nerve growth factor (NGF), the pain-triggering protein. The antibody-fused nanorods enable both active and passive targeting on peripheral osteoarthritis pain generation. In addition, by directly binding NGF molecules to the photothermal nanoparticles, which can transfer light energy to local heat, the NGF protein will be destroyed under heating with a near-infrared laser. Professor YANG Mo, Associate Head (Research) of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and a principal investigator of the study, said testing on mice suggests the targeted photothermal treatment achieves satisfactory pain relief and improvement of motor function. “It is the first time the concept of targeted photothermal therapy for osteoarthritis pain via nanotechnology is being introduced,” said Professor Yang. “Nanoparticles hold good promise for clinical translation to achieve long-lasting pain relief for days, compared to currently available medications that can only alleviate pain for hours,” he said. In their experiment with the mouse models of osteoarthritis, the nanorods with laser stimulation reduced signs of pain for three to four days. Another principal investigator, Dr WEN Chunyi, Associate Professor from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, said the dual-track pain treatments with the antibody-fused nanorods and laser stimulation reduced the amount of NGF in joint tissues more efficiently and did not cause damage to the surrounding soft tissues or bone. “A major concern of previous anti-NGF therapy in clinical trials is the development of destructive arthropathy after using high doses of anti-NGF antibodies. To address this issue, we developed the targeted theranostic approach to locate and remove NGF so that a minimal dosage of anti-NGF antibodies is required,” Dr Wen explained, adding that only around 1/100 of the therapeutic dosage used in previous clinical trials for control of osteoarthritis pain is needed under the new approach. Osteoarthritis is currently diagnosed by physical examination and, where necessary, with x-ray, MRI scanning and arthroscopy. PolyU’s novel technique enables a new and accurate diagnostics approach – osteoarthritis pain imaging, as the nanorods localised to the injured joints can be tracked using photoacoustic imaging – a new non-invasive imaging modality that combines high contrast and good specificity of optical imaging, while delivering the high resolution and penetration depth offered by ultrasound imaging. The research team chose gold nanorods due to their good photothermal properties and molybdenum disulfide coating due to its good biocompatibility. Moreover, molybdenum disulfide has good thermal conductivity and water solubility, as well as high near-infrared absorbance, making it a superior contrast agent for photoacoustic imaging that improves the nanorods’ photothermal properties. The Lancet Commission on osteoarthritis estimated the illness has affected more than 500 million people worldwide. The World Health Organization also expects the prevalence of osteoarthritis to increase due to population ageing and a rise in related factors such as obesity. Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement. However, painkillers are currently non-targeted and some even involve significant side effects. Meanwhile, total knee replacement is costly and requires considerable waiting time for surgery at public hospitals. “Our molecular theranostics treatment, if it becomes clinically available, could bring the prospect of deferring the need for expensive joint replacement operations for years and greatly improve the quality of life of osteoarthritis patients,” Dr Wen added. The research findings have been published in the prestigious journal ACS Nano by the American Chemical Society and were reported by Nature Reviews Rheumatology.   ***End***

14 Sep, 2021

Research & Innovation Department of Biomedical Engineering

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PolyU’s research finds contact tracing is an effective way for controlling the spread of COVID-19 when borders reopen

As some countries in the world begin to consider adjusting their pandemic control strategy from “zero COVID” to “living with COVID”, a research study by the Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has found that contact tracing is as vital as social distancing measures and vaccination in controlling the spread of COVID-19 when borders reopen. The research team has also developed a mobile app with a contact tracing feature, designed for use by inbound travellers, that would help fight the pandemic in this respect.

1 Sep, 2021

Research & Innovation Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics

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