New Clinical Frontiers 醫研先驅

HKUMed’s clinical research has impacted patients’ lives in a multitude of ways, and above all has served the clinical needs of communities locally and abroad through our 135 years of history and counting. As a world leader in many clinical specialties, we continue to nurture excellence as whole-heartedly as we have done in the past.



Expanding the Scope of Living Donor Liver Transplantation with Right Lobe Grafts

A team from HKUMed’s Department of Surgery sought to expand on the success of living donor liver transplantation from paediatric patients to adults. However, faced with the challenge that a relatively small left lobe graft was unable to meet the needs of an adult patient, the surgeons examined the possibility of using the right lobe of the liver, which is larger.

The surgical team achieved its first successful living donor liver transplant using this method in 1996, completing a further six transplants in adults over a period of six months.

From the first successful liver transplant in Hong Kong in 1991, the team has developed the largest programme of its kind in China and Southeast Asia. It has completed more than 1,200 liver transplants in adults and children since its early successes.

革命性右半肝移植 造福亞洲區病人




Deploying Algorithms to Detect Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally, affecting 80 million people around the world.

Unfortunately, the majority of patients are unaware they have the disease until the late stages.

Even if they seek care, there are challenges in the clinical diagnosis of the disease stemming from false positives and false negatives when analysing the retinal fibre layer.

To address these issues, a research team from HKUMed’s Department of Ophthalmology has combined the use of existing digital imaging technologies and algorithms to aid the early detection of glaucoma.

The team developed retinal nerve fibre layer optical textural analysis (ROTA) which integrates readings from standard optical coherence tomography to detect optic nerve damage that cannot be spotted through traditional analysis. ROTA is able to detect defects in patients with early to moderate glaucoma that would otherwise be missed by other imaging analysis.

This tool is both highly sensitive and highly accurate, allowing doctors to identify the disease early and ensure patients receive prompt treatment.

快速評估視神經 高分辨率診斷青光眼

港大眼科學系的研究團隊發現,利用光學相干斷層掃描(Optical coherence tomography,簡稱OCT),對視網膜神經纖維層(Retina nerve fibre layer,簡稱RNFL)的厚度和神經視盤緣寬度作出評估,是更有效的青光眼和非青光眼視神經萎縮診斷方式。相比往日的檢測,最新的OCT技術僅需數秒,即可提供高分辨率的RNFL和視神經盤緣掃描,並客觀可靠地測量這些數據。這項新一代青光眼的臨床診斷技術,已成為目前診斷青光眼的標準。



Using Bone Marrow Cells to Reverse Damage to the Heart

Following studies that showed introducing bone marrow cells into the heart improves heart function, HKUMed researchers from the Department of Medicine sought to examine the effects of the technique on patients with ischaemic heart disease, often known as coronary heart disease.

Bone marrow cells, which were taken from the patient’s pelvis, were transplanted into the areas of the heart most affected by the reduced blood flow.

After three months, the researchers found an improvement in symptoms and function of the affected areas.




Breathe It In

Effective mRNA pulmonary delivery by dry powder formulation of PEGylated synthetic KL4 peptide​

One of the many challenges in drug development is how best to deliver the medicine to the affected area.

In late 2019 a team from HKUMed’s Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy made a breakthrough with a method to deliver an inhalable messenger RNA (mRNA) formulation directly to the lung.

mRNA therapeutics teach the body to create certain proteins to produce a therapeutic effect. However, mRNA is unstable and requires protection from premature degradation to allow it to reach the target cells.

To address this, the team developed a biocompatible PEGylated cationic peptide, PEG-KL4, that mimics a natural pulmonary surfactant. The peptide/mRNA complex was then transformed into a dry powder using two particle engineering techniques.

The inhaled formulation has the potential to be used to treat lung diseases ranging from asthma to cancer.

In addition, the inhalable powder is more stable and more patient-friendly than alternative treatments.

After developing the inhalable dry powder formulation, the team turned its attention to developing an mRNA vaccine formulation, which can be self-administered and avoids the need for refrigeration.

全球首次成功研發可吸入式 mRNA 乾粉製劑技術 促進mRNA臨床應用治療肺病

港大醫學院藥理及藥劑學系成功研發將信使核糖核酸 (mRNA)結合 PEG-KL4 ,製成可吸入式乾粉製劑的技術。極具突破性的發明,為全球首個相關研究。該新技術有助促進mRNA 的臨床應用,以治療及預防各種肺病。

mRNA 的結構並不穩定,容易因物理或酶的作用分解而失去活性。因此,要把 mRNA 遞送到細胞內,便要利用轉染媒介,以免到達前過早降解。研究團隊從肺表面活性劑中得到啟發,發展出陽性蛋白肽PEG-KL4。它擁有轉染媒介的功能,可協助mRNA進入細胞之內並誘導轉染。研究團隊應用了噴霧乾燥法及噴霧—冷凍乾燥法,將PEG-KL4—mRNA結合物製成乾粉。這些乾粉具備極佳的氣溶膠特性,適合作吸入式給藥之用。



Examining the Role of Adiponectin in Pain Conditions

A team of HKUMed researchers from the Department of Anaesthesiology set out to better understand the role of adiponectin in pain conditions.

Adiponectin is a hormone released by fat tissue, which has an important role in regulating glucose and has anti-inflammatory effects, with little known about its role in pain.

The study compared the pain responses of wild type mice to mice that had been genetically modified to knock out adiponectin production, finding adiponectin regulates the sensory response to high temperatures.

This research has broader relevance for patients with adiponectin disorders, including obesity and diabetes.





Fix and Mend

Revolutionising Orthopaedic Surgery 

HKUMed’s focus on pressing local health issues has not only aided the local community, but also helped build the Faculty’s international reputation.

This is particularly true for HKUMed’s Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology where surgeons developed the “Hong Kong Operation”, pioneering a new approach to treat spinal tuberculosis, which at the time affected 500 people each year in the territory.

Later, building on this expertise in spinal surgery, a team developed the halo-pelvic apparatus to correct tuberculous kyphosis, a deformity caused by the collapse of the vertebrae. The external stabilising device allowed surgeons to gradually correct the shape of the spine while allowing the patient to continue to move around.

As Hong Kong industrialised, new issues arose from lax work safety rules and dangerous machinery, resulting in an increase in traumatic hand injuries. Thanks to expertise shared by surgeons from overseas and mainland China, microsurgery became integral to hand surgery in Hong Kong. The first replantation of a severed thumb was completed in 1977.

HKUMed orthopaedic surgeons have also opened new avenues for research into intervertebral disc degenerative disease. They carried out the world’s first human disc transplant in the 2000s. Spinal discs provide cushioning between the vertebrae in the spine allowing a person to bend and twist. However, as a person ages, these discs can suffer wear and tear, resulting in pressure on the nerves and pain.

The team pioneered allogenic intervertebral disc transplantation in five patients with cervical disc herniations as although artificial disc replacements were available, results were inconsistent. Five years post-surgery patients reported that their neurological symptoms had improved.







Commissioned Artist 委約藝術家

Sharmaine Kwan 關舒文

In her series of neon light digital art, Sharmaine Kwan illuminates the novel achievements of clinical research by HKUMed. She outlines the narratives of microsurgical thumb plantation, mRNA development for treating lung diseases, donor living liver transplant and the imaging process of the eye as a series of animated, iridescent graphics, presenting a captivating story for viewers to experience these medical breakthroughs.

Born in Hong Kong, Sharmaine Kwan’s diverse practice traverses across a range of media from painting, sculpture, installations, neon lights, interactive art, video art and NFT. She utilizes this contemporary and innovative approach in merging elements of traditional and digital media in her exploration of urban landscapes and environments, the city of Hong Kong, its past and an imagination of its future. Over the years, Sharmaine consistently engages in commissions and collaboration with global brands, organizations and events such as YouTube, Cathay Pacific and Victoria Harbour. She has also participated in various artist residencies and received awards from international art competitions, with her works showcased across worldwide locations from London, Moscow, Poland, South Korea, Portugal, Macedonia, Beijing to Hong Kong.

She received her Fine Art degree in the UK, and is also the author of ‘Traditional Chinese Painting – Masterpieces of Art’ and ‘How to Paint – Made Easy’.

香港藝術家關舒文畢業於英國肯特大學藝術系,其作品橫跨多種不同媒體,包括繪畫、雕塑、裝置、霓虹燈、互動新媒體、視像藝術、NFT等。她擅長以創新的當代視覺,將傳統與數碼媒體技術結合,探索香港的都市景觀,呈現她對於香港的過去的思考以及未來的想像。關舒文曾參與多個藝術家駐村計劃,以及獲得多個國際藝術比賽的獎項;她的作品曾於世界各地展出,包括倫敦、莫斯科、波蘭、南韓、葡萄牙、 馬其頓、北京等。