Prof. Thomas LEUNG Yun-chung, Professor of the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology and Lo Ka Chung Charitable Foundation Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences of PolyU, and Prof. Alisa SHUM Sau-wun, Associate Professor, School of Biomedical Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), have jointly made a groundbreaking drug discovery in treating multiple metabolic diseases related to obesity and insulin resistance like diabetes and fatty liver disease.
The joint research project is supported by the Lo Ka Chung Charitable Foundation Limited, the Health and Medical Research Fund of the Health Bureau and the State Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery of PolyU. The inter-institutional collaboration between PolyU and CUHK has sparked innovative ideas and possibilities for researching this new and one-of-a-kind drug. It has also maximised the coordination between research experts and the use of equipment and facilities in different specialised areas.
The new drug, ABarginase, opens a new path for safe, long-lasting cures to multiple obesity related diseases simultaneously through an ingenious treatment mechanism.
ABarginase shows promise for the effective treatment of multiple metabolic diseases including prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The fabrication process of ABarginase is inexpensive and highly efficient, making it affordable and widely adoptable for clinical applications.
In preclinical studies, diet-induced obese mice were injected with ABarginase once a week. Researchers found that within eight weeks of treatment, the mice’s body weight, fat mass, fatty liver and characteristic features of diabetes such as high blood glucose, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance were entirely reversed. The research team is now scaling up the production for manufacturing ABarginase in preparation for conducting clinical trials.
Prof. Leung appreciated the Lo Ka Chung Charitable Foundation for supporting his research through the Endowed Professorship Scheme. “Thanks to the Foundation, I have been able to pursue my research on the rational design of cancer drugs by protein engineering and chemical biology with sustainable funding support. Subsequently, I have also discovered a possible solution to invent a new drug that could potentially treat obesity-related cancers and other ailments. Upon sharing this exciting news with the Foundation, they generously provided additional funding to further our research in this new direction”.
In an affirmation of its potential benefit to patients and positive impact on global health, as well as a testament to the research excellence of inter-university collaboration, ABarginase recently won one of the two prestigious Grand Prizes awarded to Hong Kong in this year’s International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva – the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations (IFIA) Best Invention Award.