MNC can tap into the extensive infrastructure currently at HKUST as
well as the other participating centers in order to make great strides
in neuroscience research. MNC has the support and access to a range
of resources belonging to Biotechnology
Research Institute (BRI)/HKUST and a number of centers which it
manages, including the BRI TCM Center, High Throughput Drug Screening
(HTS) Center, Combinatorial Chemistry Center, Genechip Center and Applied
Genomics Center. The multi-investigator team of the MNC can also tap
into the resources of the departments to which they are affiliated,
namely, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
BRI TCM Center: This Center was established by BRI in July 1997 with
a grant from the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF). The mission of
the BRI TCM Center is to facilitate and promote the scientific and technological
development of TCM through the integration of multidisciplinary expertise
at HKUST, to establish industry and academic partnerships and networks,
and to create biotechnological innovations. The main areas of focus
are on drug development, safety, standardization, and reformulation.
It was recognized that such a technology center was needed in order
to coordinate and accelerate the major research and development efforts
related to TCM in both Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland.
Center: In October 1999, BRI was awarded an ITF grant and matching fund
from VivoQuest Inc. to establish "HTS Center for TCM". The state-of-the-art
facility utilizes the latest advances in molecular biology, molecular
target identification, and bioassay development/optimization/miniaturization
for setting a solid foundation through which to engage in drug discovery
activities. The HTS Center utilizes high-throughput automated platforms
to rapidly observe changes at the cellular/molecular level that have
been triggered by specific compounds found in TCM. Established HTS platforms
such as the FLIPR, FLEXstation, Cytosensor, and receptor binding comprise
the core technology platforms of the Center. The Center also possesses
a growing TCM library which currently consists of a collection of TCM
formulations, crude extracts, active fractions, and pure compounds.
With state-of-the-art automated equipment for the rapid screening of
compound libraries, this Center can provide the MNC with expertise and
capabilities in TCM-based neuro-drug discovery.
Center: Supported with a grant from the ITF and sponsorship from Chinachem
Group, the Center was established in 1999 to focus on the development
of innovative microarray technology. As the Human Genome Project nears
completion, this technology is being developed by many groups around
the world to significantly impact the validation of new drug targets
(a field that has been designated functional genomics) as well as accelerate
the identification and pre-clinical development of novel drug candidates
through the recognition of protein regulation patterns (gene expression
profiling) associated with such processes as cell death and drug metabolism.
The Center aims to develop microarray technology through the establishment
of in-house fabrication expertise for the production of microarray products.
With the capabilities to fabricate custom chips, the Genechip Center
can explore other chip applications for the MNC, including genomics
research and drug discovery.
Genomics Center: With a grant from the ITF and matching fund from Enhan
Technology Holdings International Co., Ltd., BRI started to build up
its world-class genomic platform in April 2002. The Center exploits
the powerful technology of DNA arrays to elucidate the roles of drug
candidates in modulating complex signaling pathways. The scientists
are developing a high value-added, niche-oriented database that provides
detailed expression profiling data related to the modulation of neuro-signaling
pathways by neuro-active agents. The database is envisioned to be a
valuable investigative tool in the discovery and development of neuro-related
drug targets and small molecule therapeutics.
Chemistry Center: BRI initiated the establishment of the Combinatorial
Chemistry Center in October 2000 with an ITF grant and matching sponsorship
from VivoQuest Inc. The Center possesses the capability to rapidly generate
compound libraries with maximum diverisity around selected scaffolds
of natural product origin. MNC scientists can tap into this capability
to facilitate the discovery and development of novel neuro-drugs. In
particular, combinatorial chemistry can be utilized to structurally
modify promising TCM-derived compounds in order to optimize desirable
properties such as bioavailability and to remove undesirable properties
such as poor specificity for the target.
NMR Facility: The Biomolecular NMR Facility is Asia's most state-of-the
art facility with a 750MHz and a 500 MHz NMR spectrometers. With HKUST
also having additional 400 MHz and 300 MHz NMR spectrometers, the MNC
team scientists have access to powerful tools for drug screening, structural-based
drug design, and small compound elucidation. In particular, NMR spectroscopy
can be used for screening active components from crude TCM extracts
or combinatorial libraries. In structure-based drug design, NMR spectroscopy
is a proven and powerful tool in elucidating the structure of the drug
targets. Because team members have past research experience in NMR-based
structure-activity relationship studies and lead development, having
such an advanced capability puts the MNC in an advantageous position
to further pursue novel lead compounds based on existing and newly discovered