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PolyU discovers the effect of chemical compound PTU on autophagy in zebrafish embryos, sheds light on cancer medication research

The zebrafish has been utilised as a model organism for biomedical research globally for half a century, mainly due to the high genetic similarity (over 70%) between zebrafish and human genes, with over 80% of human morbid genes related to at least one zebrafish orthologue. As test subjects, zebrafish are suitable for high throughput applications (to screen a large amount of genetic data simultaneously) and are widely used as a model organism for studying vertebrate development and for characterising diseases such as cancer, to help in identifying and testing new drugs. Fast development, cost-effective and easy to breed are also primary drivers for using the zebrafish research model. However, a recent research project led by Dr Alvin MA Chun-hang, Assistant Professor of the Department of Health Technology and Informatics, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), has revealed that the conventional application of 1-phenyl 2-thiourea (PTU), a pigment suppresser used in the zebrafish research model, may affect the results of autophagy-related studies. This ground-breaking finding subsequently sheds light on the respective research guidelines and the research protocol in on-going studies on autophagy and haematology, warranting researchers to re-examine research that is linked to existing cancer therapy options. The research titled “1-phenyl 2-thiourea (PTU) Activates Autophagy in Zebrafish Embryos” (link) was published in Autophagy, a peer-reviewed science journal in April 2020. In most research using the zebrafish model, a chemical compound called 1-phenyl-2-thiourea (PTU) is commonly used to suppress pigment formation in zebrafish embryos, maintaining optical transparency to facilitate microscopic imaging. Over the past three years, the PolyU research team led by Dr MA has been using the zebrafish model to investigate the causes of leukaemia and its relationship with autophagy (self-eating) – a mechanism of metabolism that involves the degradation of cells by lysosomes and the process of cell renewal and regeneration. It is a cellular reaction to various physiological and pathological conditions regulating important processes, including intracellular material turnover, cell death, proliferation, development, ageing and tumourigenesis. According to Dr Ma, “Upon 0.003% PTU treatment, aberrant autophagosome and autolysosome formation, accumulation of lysosomes and elevated autophagic flux were observed in various tissues and organs of the zebrafish,” He pointed out that “Autophagy is crucial in the process of drug resistance of various cells and over-activation of autophagy may potentially interfere with the efficacy of drugs. The research finding means that when we are using this prominent model to study any autophagy-related processes like cancer, the results may not be truly reflected. These studies could have produced skewed results. Researchers should avoid using PTU in autophagy-related research in the future.” Dr MA added that the team has already suspended the use of PTU in zebrafish research. Light-sheet microscopy, which offers greater imaging depth, will be employed as an alternative, for image autophagy in the zebrafish embryo with pigment for their study on leukaemia. Furthermore, the new research findings also provide a direct mechanistic link between autophagy and melanoma, suggesting autophagy probably regulates melanoma development and drug resistance through interaction with tyrosinase, a key rate-limited regulator of melanin synthesis. Investigation into details of the molecular mechanism between autophagy and melanoma is expected in the future. Professor YIP Shea-ping, Head of Department of Health Technology and Informatics, said, “We are pleased to see our research team’s recent discovery published in Autophagy, the highest impact journal in the field. Dr MA has also been invited as co-author for new guidelines on autophagy research using zebrafish embryos, a revision that takes place every four years. With the new guidelines in place, we will be able to modify the way we conduct autophagy-related studies with the zebrafish model and, hopefully, to open the door to new treatments for various deadly diseases.”   ***** END *****  

9 Jul, 2020

Research & Innovation Faculty of Health and Social Sciences


PolyU Food Safety Consortium becomes the first and only Codex Observer as non-governmental organisation in Hong Kong and Mainland China

The Food Safety Consortium (FSC) hosted at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is delighted to have become an Observer at the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), a body established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to develop food standards under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.

2 Jul, 2020

Others Innovation and Technology Development Office

The Chairmen of the Councils of the UGC Funded Universities issue the following statement

The Chairmen of the Councils of the UGC Funded Universities issue the following statement regarding The Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the National Security Law): Many countries around the world have put in place legislation to safeguard their own national security. We support the promulgation and implementation of the National Security Law, which applies to The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of The People's Republic of China. In addition to protecting our national security, the new law will help safeguard Hong Kong's prosperity and stability as well as our "One Country, Two Systems", with a view to putting an end to the year-long social instability which Hong Kong has suffered. We appeal to all stakeholders of the university communities to remain steadfast in their respective roles and to make continuous contributions to the community and our future generations by leveraging our traditional strengths in academic freedom, cultural diversity and broad international perspectives. Mr Lester Huang, Chairman of the Council of City University of Hong Kong Dr Clement Chen, Chairman of the Council of Hong Kong Baptist University Mr Andrew Yao Cho-fai, Chairman of the Council of Lingnan University Dr Norman Leung Nai-pang, Chairman of the Council of The Chinese University of Hong Kong Professor Frederick Ma Si-hang, Chairman of the Council of The Education University of Hong Kong Dr Lam Tai-fai, Chairman of the Council of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Mr Andrew Liao, Chairman of the Council of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Professor Arthur Li, Chairman of the Council of The University of Hong Kong (Listed in alphabetical order of university titles)

1 Jul, 2020

Others Communications and Public Affairs Office


PolyU’s newest research on metalens-array-based high-dimensional and multi-photon quantum source published in Science

The top international journal, Science, has announced the latest paper of a joint team from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), Nanjing University, University of Science and Technology of China, National Taiwan University, Academia Sinica, East China Normal University, and National United University. The paper title is “Metalens-array-based high-dimensional and multi-photon quantum source” (link), and it reports on cutting-edge research in quantum information optics. The team’s work has resulted in the development of an advanced high-dimensional quantum entangled optical chip (optical meta-device). By combining quantum optics and metasurface optics, a 10×10 meta-lens array is designed, fabricated, and integrated with a nonlinear crystal (BaB2O4). It is experimentally demonstrated that the multi-photon pairs are superimposed and correlated with each other. The schematic of the high-dimensional quantum entangled optical chip (optical meta-device) is shown in Figure 1. In recent years, the internet plays an essential role in human life generally and in the rise of artificial intelligence technology specifically. The related needs are also booming, such as big data, the Internet of Things, etc. The computing speed and the storage capacity requirements have increased exponentially. According to Moore’s Law, the semiconductor industrial processes are quickly approaching their theoretical and physical limits, and improvement in the computing speed of the modern semiconductor chip has been gradually slowing down. To cope with higher information security, message-carrying capacity, and computation ability, quantum optics is seen as the most powerful solution. In quantum information science, such as quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum cryptography, the physical picture is based on the generation, transmission, processing, and analysis of the quantum bits (qubits). In digital computing science, 0 and 1 are used as the binary variables. In quantum optics, a pair of entangled photons can contain multiple quantum states. When the quantum states of multiple pairs of entangled photon pairs are coupled and superimposed on each other, a new high-dimensional quantum superposition state will be generated, as shown in Figures 2 and 3. In the team’s work, a 10×10 meta-lens array and spontaneous down-conversion nonlinear crystals are integrated to form a high-dimensional quantum entangled optical chip (optical meta-device). This meta-device can generate 100 entangled photon pairs simultaneously, and the photon pairs correlate with each other. The research team has successfully developed a high-dimensional quantum entangled light source chip (meta-device). The interference experiment obtained a fidelity of nearly 98.4%, which confirmed the feasibility of this high-dimensional quantum entangled optical chip (optical meta-device). This breakthrough research will help quantum information science to realise many applications in our daily life in the future, such as quantum mobile communications, email access, online transactions, cashless payments, ATMs and e-banking, internet security, machine learning, artificial intelligence, neural networks and other applications related to security and confidentiality.   ***** End *****  

26 Jun, 2020

Research & Innovation Faculty of Engineering


PolyU collaborates with Macau University of Science and Technology to advance diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia

COVID-19 is taking its toll on the world, affecting more than 200 countries and regions. In the face of a surge in cases, rapid diagnosis and identification of high-risk patients for early intervention is crucial for controlling the pandemic. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is committed to the fight against COVID-19 and has been collaborating with various partners in the prevention and control of the disease.  PolyU today announced the launch of a new AI system jointly developed with the Macau University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T.) in conjunction with other Chinese institutions, to assist in the rapid diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia. This research was published in the prestigious international journal Cell, in a paper entitled “Clinically Applicable AI System for Accurate Diagnosis, Quantitative Measurements, and Prognosis of COVID-19 Pneumonia Using Computed Tomography” (link).  The novel AI-assisted diagnostic system, based on computed tomography (CT) chest imaging, can efficiently distinguish COVID-19 pneumonia from other viral pneumonia, and predict the severity level in 20 seconds, with an accuracy of up to 90% or above. It assists radiologists and physicians in performing a quick diagnosis, especially when the health system is overloaded.

15 Jun, 2020

Research & Innovation Innovation and Technology Development Office

PolyU secures HK$32.6 million research funding from Research Impact Fund

Five research projects led by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have secured HK$32.6 million funding from the Research Impact Fund (RIF) under Research Grants Council (RGC) in the 2019/20 round of funding. For the second year running, PolyU obtained the largest amount of funding support among local universities in terms of the dollar amount and the total number of funded projects. The five projects awarded funding represent 45% of both funding and number of projects of the RIF in 2019/20. The funding will be used to advance a variety of research areas in data storage technology, space exploration, edge learning, glaucoma treatment and ultrasound imaging technology for assessing cardiovascular diseases. The projects, led by PolyU as the “coordinating university”, are as follows, which details are listed in the Appendix. Project Project-in-charge Funding Amount (HK$ million) Data Storage and Retrieval Using Peptides and Tandem Mass Spectrometry Sequencing Dr YAO Zhongping Associate Professor, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology 9.7 Forward-looking Intravascular Photoacoustic/Ultrasound Imaging Technology for the Asssessment and Guidance of Cardiovascular Chronic Total Occlusion Intervention Dr LAM Kwok-ho Associate Professor & Associate Head, Department of Electrical Engineering 4.3 Mapping and characterization for optimized evaluation of potential landing sites on the Moon and Mars to support future missions Dr WU Bo Associate Professor, Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics 4.5 Improving Vision and Quality of Life in Patients with Glaucoma Using Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and Perceptual Learning: A Randomized Clinical Trial Dr CHEONG Ming Yan Allen Associate Professor, School of Optometry 8.8 Edge Learning: the Enabling Technology for Distributed Big Data Analytics in Cloud-Edge Environment Professor GUO Song Professor & Associate Head, Department of Computing 5.3 Total Amount 32.6 Professor Alexander Wai, Deputy President and Provost of PolyU, said, “This is testimony to the University’s capacity in undertaking impactful and translational research projects, as well as a recognition to our efforts in promoting knowledge advancement. PolyU will continue to leverage our strengths to foster strategic collaboration and partnerships across disciplines and institutions. We look forward to the fruitful results of the research teams’ research and their contributions to the well-being of humankind. “ The RIF, established by the University Grants Committee and administered by the RGC, aims to encourage universities in Hong Kong to conduct more collaborative research projects that may help meet Hong Kong's strategic and societal needs, and foster more collaborative efforts with stakeholders beyond academia.   ***** END *****

9 Jun, 2020

Research & Innovation Others

The Chairmen of the Councils of the UGC Funded Universities issue the following statement

The Chairmen of the Councils of the UGC Funded Universities issue the following statement: As residents of Hong Kong, we enjoy the protection provided by the state, and in turn have a reciprocal obligation to protect the state by supporting the introduction of legislation which prohibits criminal acts that threaten the existence of the state. We therefore support the national security laws which will operate under the principle of “one country, two systems,” to better ensure universities can continue to create knowledge through research and learning. Mr Lester Huang, Chairman of the Council of City University of Hong Kong Dr Clement Chen, Chairman of the Council of Hong Kong Baptist University Mr Andrew Yao Cho-fai, Chairman of the Council of Lingnan University Dr Norman Leung Nai-pang, Chairman of the Council of The Chinese University of Hong Kong Professor Frederick Ma Si-hang, Chairman of the Council of The Education University of Hong Kong Dr Lam Tai-fai, Chairman of the Council of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Mr Andrew Liao, Chairman of the Council of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Professor Arthur Li, Chairman of the Council of The University of Hong Kong (Listed in alphabetical order of university titles)

1 Jun, 2020

Others Communications and Public Affairs Office

Statement by University Heads

The following is our statement regarding the national security legislation for Hong Kong to be enacted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress: The stability and prosperity of our country and our city are of paramount importance to the future of our younger generation. A safe and stable social environment, a robust legal system, the rule of law, maintenance of law and order, as well as inclusiveness and diversity are key to Hong Kong’s long-term development. We fully support “One Country, Two Systems”, understand the need for national security legislation, and value the freedom of speech, of the press, of publication, of assembly, and other rights the Basic Law confers upon the people of Hong Kong.  Our universities will continue to stand fast in upholding the principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, as well as promoting academic excellence and embracing diversity, and contributing to society. Prof. Leonard K CHENG, President, Lingnan University  Prof. Rocky S. TUAN, Vice-Chancellor and President, The Chinese University of Hong Kong  Prof. Stephen Y. L. CHEUNG, President, The Education University of Hong Kong  Prof. TENG Jin-Guang, President, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University  Prof. ZHANG Xiang, President and Vice-Chancellor, The University of Hong Kong (Listed in alphabetical order of university titles)

1 Jun, 2020

Others Communications and Public Affairs Office

press release_2000x1050

PolyU to hold online "PolyU JUPAS Consultation Day 2020: Admissions Strategies" and to adopt flexiblility towards the minimum score requirement for admission via JUPAS

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) will hold the "PolyU JUPAS Consultation Day 2020: Admissions Strategies" online in the afternoon of 30 May (2-5pm, Saturday). During the Consultation Day, Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) applicants will obtain the latest update on PolyU’s programmes. This will be useful for them when re-evaluating programme choices they have made and amending any choices by 3 June, before the release of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) results. Registration is required on or before 26 May via Places are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The PolyU Academic Registry will arrange an online seminar during the Consultation Day on “admissions strategies and interview skills”, which will focus on the latest admissions arrangements, key considerations in programme selection and essential interview skills. Academic units will organise a series of online programme information seminars and Q&A sessions during the Consultation Day. JUPAS applicants will have ample opportunity to understand the entrance requirements, curricula and programme features, and student life of their preferred disciplines/programmes. “PolyU JUPAS Consultation Day” has been successfully held over the years. Over 3,000 attendees, including JUPAS applicants, parents and teachers, were drawn to the event last year. In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, PolyU has, for the first time, introduced the online Consultation Day so as to ensure a safe environment for our JUPAS applicants, whilst at the same time providing them access to the latest information and resources that are essential to their applications. In addition, PolyU today announced that starting from the academic year 2020/21, the University will adopt flexiblility towards the minimum score requirement for JUPAS admission. Previously, the entrance requirement for JUPAS candidates to PolyU has been “3-3-2-2-3-3”, which means candidates have to reach level 3 in both languages and level 2 in Mathematics and Liberal Studies together with level 3 in two additional electives. Under the new arrangement, applicants who fall slightly short on the general entrance requirements for degree programmes but meet the following conditions will be given special consideration for admission:- having a result in one subject in the HKDSE examination falling one level below the required level, but with the attainment of a total score of 28 points# or above in the best five subjects (i.e. deemed equivalent to attaining at least Level 5 in 5 HKDSE subjects); and having selected PolyU’s degree programmes as their Band A choices, i.e. first 3 priorities, in JUPAS; and having passed an admission interview. To know more about the flexible approach towards the minimum score requirement, please visit and register for the Consultation Day seminars .  JUPAS programme details are available at the Study@PolyU website:  Enquiries about the event should be directed to (tel) 2333-0600 or (email)   #HKDSE level attainments will be converted to score points where Level 5**=8.5, 5*=7, 5=5.5, 4=4, 3=3, 2=2, 1=1   ***** End *****

21 May, 2020

Teaching & Learning Academic Registry


PolyU Explores the Application of Peptides in Data Storage for Space Exploration in China’s Next-generation Manned Spacecraft

With the huge amount of digital data generated and recorded during space missions, the data storage devices currently used for this purpose reveal great limitations in terms of their data storage capacity and the durability of the retained data. To meet this challenge, a team of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) researchers has developed a novel technology for massive data management involving the use of peptides, which has been developed to optimise data storage for space exploration in China’s next-generation manned spacecraft in the new Long March-5B rocket. Led by Dr YAO Zhong-ping, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology and Prof. Francis LAU, Professor and Associate Head, Department of Electronic & Information Engineering, the team has used peptides for the storage of digital data and tandem mass spectrometry for its retrieval. Compared with existing commercial data storage devices and other developing technologies such as DNA data storage, peptides offer a much higher storage density and longer storage duration – with the data still viable for sequencing even after millions of years when DNA would have already degraded. As such, this new technology has very great potential for handling the enormous amount of data generated during space missions. Dr Yao considers the peptide synthesis industry to be already well-developed, allowing fast peptide synthesis at a reasonable cost; with the development of proteomics, the process of sequencing thousands of peptides in a mixture can now be completed within a short period of time. Combining proteomics and data storage technology for the first time, this innovation has the potential to transform the data storage industry. Besides its application in data management for space missions, this technology has potentially wide applications, and could benefit governmental agencies and corporations that generate and archive large volumes of big data. Dr Yao adds that the further advancements in the peptide synthesis industry and sequencing technology would enable the peptide data storage to be applied at a more reasonable cost. Launched on 5 May 2020, the manned spacecraft of the Long March-5B rocket, with the support of Space Biology Group, carried mixtures of peptides encoding a bilingual text file containing the PolyU motto ‘To learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind’ and ‘PolyU 80th Anniversary’, as well as an audio file of the music ‘Silent Night’, prepared by the PolyU research team. The purpose of this space ride-share experiment is to test the reliability and stability of the peptides for data storage and retrieval after exposure to the space environment. Upon the safe return to Earth of the spacecraft along with the experimental materials, the PolyU team will decode and retrieve the data. It is expected that this technology will hold promise in supporting data management in space exploration in the coming future.  PolyU has a strong research track record in space technology, with its researchers having been involved in a number of national and international space exploration projects since the 1990s, and with this important space ride-share experiment, the University has now participated in the historic launch of the China’s Long March-5B rocket along with the next-generation manned spacecraft to support the nation’s plan for space exploration to Mars. PolyU looks forward to further collaboration with China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, Space Biology Group, China Resources Life Sciences Group and various other research partners to develop other forward-looking research projects for future space missions.   ***** END *****   About The Hong Kong Polytechnic University While boasting a proud history of over 80 years, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is a vibrant and aspiring university with a forward-looking vision and mission. Committed to building a talent pipeline and research strength for advancing the development of Hong Kong, the Nation, and the world, PolyU provides the best holistic education to nurture future-ready global citizens and socially responsible leaders, conducts high-impact interdisciplinary research, and proactively transfers knowledge to create value and build impact.  We embrace internationalisation and engage the Nation for education and research through strategic partnerships and collaborations. With “Opening Minds. Shaping the Future” as our brand promise, the University is currently offering more than 160 taught programmes in six faculties and two schools, engaging in 3,200 exciting research projects, and collaborating with over 660 institutions overseas and in the Chinese mainland on a wide variety of initiatives. We have over 400,000 alumni around the globe and currently 28,000 students. PolyU website: About Space Biology Group Space Biology Group manages and operates space biological experiments for the China aerospace industry. It provides a platform for conducting space biology experiments for research centers, tertiary educational institutions, and agricultural and life sciences companies, through the provision of a one-stop service, as well as advanced instruments for space biological experiments, including those at the high-level operation modes of civil space crafts and space station modules. Space Biology Group website:

20 May, 2020

Research & Innovation Innovation and Technology Development Office

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