HKUST Division of Life Science Biotechnology Research Institute



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Supporting Facilities/Centers


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Supporting Facilities/Centers

The 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.

HTS 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.

Genechip 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.

Applied 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.

Combinatorial 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.

Biomolecular 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 targets.


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Last Updated in January 2007