As populations age, diseases like osteoporosis are becoming more common, overburdening healthcare systems. To address this challenge, Prof. Wong Ka-hing, Director of the Research Institute for Future Food and Professor of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, and his research team has developed novel selenium nanoparticles (Cs4-SeNPs) for managing postmenopausal osteoporosis.


Selenium plays important roles in health and a deficiency harms bone microarchitecture. Selenium nanoparticles have benefits over their counterparts in food, yet little research has examined their bone health efficacy.


Using polysaccharide-protein complex isolated from Cordyceps sinensis, a medicinal fungus, the team made uniform, stable Cs4-SeNPs. Experiments showed these nanoparticles are rapidly absorbed by pre-osteoblast cells and increase their proliferation, differentiation and mineralisation, promoting new bone formation.


Cs4-SeNPs induces reactive oxygen species generation at the physiological level, triggering osteoblast differentiation. Unlike common selenium compounds, Cs4-SeNPs powerfully stimulates bone growth while remaining non-toxic.


In ovariectomised animals, Cs4-SeNPs promoted bone formation, prevented bone resorption and improved bone microarchitecture. This demonstrates their in-vivo efficacy against postmenopausal osteoporosis.


Collaborating with industry, the team is now bringing related health food products to market. Prof. Wong said Cs4-SeNPs have broad health applications beyond postmenopausal osteoporosis management, with research into Parkinson's disease treatment underway. Interdisciplinary efforts will unlock the nanoparticles' biomedical potential and advance related research.


The latest research findings were recently published in the Journal of Functional Foods. This patented nanotechnology has also gained wide recognition, leading to various national and international awards, including the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science and Technology) 2020: Second-Class Award in Technological Innovation.