Research News

26 Oct 2021

Altered ISGylation drives aberrant macrophage-dependent immune responses during SARS-CoV-2 infection

In this new publication in Nature ImmunologyQiwen Teo (co-first author), HKU-Pasteur PhD student who just graduated, Chris Mok and Sumana Sanyal, both former PIs at HKU-Pasteur, tried to address the scientific question of the function of ISG15 (a downstream antiviral protein of IFN) regulation during the infection of SARS-CoV-2, influenza or Zika viruses. 
They found that while influenza and Zika viruses induce ISGylation, SARS-CoV-2 triggers deISGylation instead to generate free ISG15. The altered free and conjugated ISG15 dysregulates macrophage responses and probably contributes to the cytokine storms triggered by SARS-CoV-2. Their findings thus provide a new angle to understand the pathogenesis of the SARS-CoV-2. 

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has caused more than 240 million cases of COVID-19 and over 5 millions deaths. To face this challenge, interferons (IFNs) are the first line of defence against virus infections and are critical drivers of the innate immune response.” 
Chris Mok

13 Oct 2021

Reduction of Infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 by Zinc Oxide Coatings

Professor Leo Poon, Principal Investigator at the Centre for Immunology & Infection and Co-Director of HKU-Pasteur, published in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering about the development of an antimicrobial coatings from ZnO particles that reduce the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 suspensions by >99.9% in 1 h.
The advantage of a coating is that it can be applied to a variety of objects, e.g., hand rails and door knobs, to hinder the spread of disease. Two porous coatings were prepared: one from submicrometer zinc oxide particles bound with silica menisci and the other from zinc oxide tetrapods bound with polyurethane. Experiments on glass coatings show that infectivity depends on porosity for hydrophilic materials, wherein aqueous droplets are imbibed into the pores.

13 Oct 2021

A Push for Real Normal: Mass Screening for COVID-19

Professor Leo Poon, Principal Investigator at C2i and Co-Director of HKU-Pasteur provided an editorial on mass screening strategies fo COVID-19 for Clinical Chemistry. 
In this publication, Professor Leo Poon, Principal Investigator at C2i and Co-Director of HKU-Pasteur, comments the different strategies that have been taken so far by governments to control the pandemic, from mitigation to suppression approaches. 
Irrespective of which approach is used for controlling this pandemic, both approaches require comprehensive and accurate public health data to inform policy making or management.
For Professor Poon, a multi-pronged approach is needed to control the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 in humans to a more manageable level, with more affordable and accessible vaccine options, effective antivirals or therapeutics, practical nonpharmaceutical interventions, and cost-effective and highly sensitive nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) for mass screening at the community level.