Research News

30 Dec 2020

SARS-COV-2: Multidisciplinary Project On Sewage Helps Safeguarding Public Health In Hong Kong

The University of Hong Kong's multidisciplinary team conducting a research for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in sewage has led to improvements in the surveillance of outbreaks in local communities and potential clusters.  

Professor Gabriel Leung, Dean of Medicince (HKUMed) announced on Monday 28 December 2020, that residents of Fung Chak House in Choi Wan Estate, and anyone who visited the building since December 15, will be subject to mandatory testing after four sewage samples taken in the past five days came back positive for coronavirus.

With no confirmed cases so far in Fung Chak House, Professor Leung said the virus found in the sewage is most likely coming from an asymptomatic carrier of SARS-COV-2. The team took those samples after 15 people came down with Covid-19 in the neighboring block of Ming Lai House.

The team includes Professor Leo Poon, Co-Director at HKU-Pasteur, Doctor Hein Min Tun, Principal Investigator at HKU-Pasteur, and is led by Professor Tong Zhang of Department of Civil Engineering.

Sponsored by the Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) under the Food and Health Bureau, this project allowed the collection of more than 300 domestic sewage samples from sewage collection systems in different areas for nucleic acid tests of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. 

Since the beginning of the project in October 2020, the team has been able to demonstrate that sewage surveillance could provide early warning of COVID-19 outbreaks, reflecting the overall spread of virus in the community. It also helps tracking the development trend of community outbreak.

>>> Press release from HKU

29 Dec 2020

C&E News 2020 Review To Celebrate Chris Mok’s Paper

In its review largely dominated by SARS-CoV-2 publications, C&E News has selected Chris Mok's paper about antibody CR3022 and SARS-CoV-2 spike structure analysis published in Science earlier this year as a top paper of 2020.

>>> C&EN’s Year in Chemistry 2020

This paper sheds new light into antibody recognition of SARS-CoV-2. To this end, they used the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which is the region of the Spike protein that allows virus entry into cells by interacting with its specific receptor.  
They took advantage of CR3022, a neutralizing monoclonal antibody previously isolated from a convalescent SARS patient, to determine its crystal structure in complex with the RBD of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. This antibody targets a highly conserved epitope that enables cross-reactive binding with the Spike proteins of both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. Structural alignment of the CR3022-SARS-CoV-2 RBD complex with the ACE2-SARS-CoV RBD complex further indicates that binding of CR3022 would not clash with ACE2.  
This analysis implies that the neutralization mechanism of CR3022 for SARS-CoV does not depend on direct blocking of receptor binding, which is consistent with the observation that CR3022 does not compete with ACE2 for binding to the RBD. Overall, this study provides insight into how SARS-CoV-2 can be targeted by the humoral immune response and revealed a conserved, but cryptic epitope shared between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV.

03 Dec 2020

4-Year Research Goup Within The IPIN Call For Application 2020

The Institut Pasteur 2020 call for application for 4-year Research groups is now open ! 

To encourage the development of ambitious research programmes, and to strengthen scientific leadership skills of promising researchers across the Institut Pasteur International Network (IPIN), Institut Pasteur will support the creation of 4-year Research Groups (G4) in these IPIN institutes.

Deadline for application: February 12th , 2021

A G4 is a newly independent structure created for 4 years, within institutes of the IPIN (except Institut Pasteur in Paris) in order to develop or strengthen key research areas of the host institution and to participate in the development of this network by reinforcing research through collaboration and training. The aim is that after the 4 years, a sustainable new research area is initiated at the host institution and and goes on through a permanent structure.

A G4 will be composed by a PI, selected trougth an international call, and scientific staff, including Masters, PhD students, interns and/or postdoctoral researchers.

For more information on eligibility criteria and to download forms for application, please visit Institut Pasteur website.