Leaders of six HKU research projects: (upper row from left) Professor Victor O.K. Li, Professor Barbara Chan, Dr Wei-Ning Lee; (second row from left) Dr Chenshu Wu, Professor Liu Pengtao, Professor Billy Chow
Six research teams from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) were awarded the Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards (Hong Kong) 2022 in the Healthy Longevity Global Competition.
The competition is held by the United States National Academy of Medicine (NAM) with the Research Grants Council as its Hong Kong sponsor. A total of ten research teams from Hong Kong were awarded this year.
Launched in 2019, the Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge offers opportunities for innovators, scientists, and entrepreneurs to catalyse breakthrough discoveries and innovations that could leapfrog existing barriers and jumpstart new solutions, thereby propelling the field of ageing research and improving the health of persons as they age. The competition composed three phases of Awards- Catalyst Award, Accelerator Award and the Grand Prize.
The Catalyst Awards reward bold, new, potentially transformative ideas from fields such as biomedicine, behavioural science, sociology, engineering and infrastructure, technology, policy, to improve the physical, mental, or social well-being for people as they age, and in a measurable and equitable way. In particular, NAM seeks ideas that will extend the human health span through innovations in disease prevention, biology, mobility and function, social connectedness, productive longevity and more. Ideas could focus on early-, mid-, or late-life, as long as it ultimately promotes health as people age.
Of the ten Catalyst Awards in Hong Kong this year, each includes a US$50,000 (approx. HK$389,000) cash prize at a maximum for a period of 12 months and travel subsidies (HK$30,000 per person; max. 6 persons per team) for awarded teams to attend an Innovator Summit in 2023.
Project from the Faculty of Science: Development of Small-Molecule Modulators of the Secretin Receptor as Novel Anti-Hypertensive Agents
Project leader: Professor Billy CHOW, Chair of Endocrinology, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
About the project: Large segments of ageing hypertensive patients are resistant to a wide range of conventional drugs and hence there is an urgent need for new initiatives to develop alternative treatments. The research team developed the first small molecule-based Secretin receptor modulator (KSD179019), which not only has a similar blood pressure lowering effect as SCT peptide but, more importantly, has a much longer half-life (~8 hours). The development of KSD179019 as a novel class of oral anti-hypertensive drug can be of critical importance, as it could tackle resistant hypertension. This project could potentially provide an important advancement in finding novel small molecule drugs for resistant hypertension by targeting Secretin receptor.