Activity Report

Annual Report 2005

Executive Summary
Since February 2005, HKU-Pasteur Research Centre (HKU-PRC) has made significant progress in the development of its research, teaching and network activities. The successful completion of its SARS candidate vaccine animal studies marks the achievement of one of the key objectives set forth at the board of directors meeting in November 2003. The centre has also achieved an important first milestone in its drug discovery programme by identifying anti-HIV compounds from a chemical library of 48,000 molecules. Genomic and proteomic research have generated exiting new findings on cellular factors required for virus multiplication. The basic research is expected to reveal novel targets for specific and enhanced spectrum antivirals.

While SARS played a central role in the research from 2003-2005, the centre has now broadened its viral disease focus to HIV, Avian Flu, Dengue and Hepatitis C. Specific research projects on these different viruses share a common focus, namely the study of key virus-host interactions, which leads to an interactive collaboration between the different projects within the centre.

The virus research, which is placed at the centre of HKU-PRC ‘s activities, was accompanied by a consolidation of the Pasteur-Asia Virology course, a high profile teaching event reuniting the world’s leaders in virus research including the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Institut Pasteur and the region’s most talented students in infectious disease. The 2nd Pasteur-Asia Virology Course on Respiratory Viruses held in July 2005 was a great success. Research and teaching are designed in a complimentary fashion resulting not only in active collaborations with international experts from Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States but also the recruitment of young talents for our research team.

The centre has taken an active role in the coordination of the joint bird flu research programme of Pasteur-Asia institutes within the RESPARI programme established by Asian Pasteur institutes. A collaboration agreement has been signed with the Shanghai Institute for Materia Medica (SIMM) to carry out joint antiviral drug discovery in a programme advised by Prof Paul Vanhoutte from the Biopharmaceutical Development Centre of HKU.

The centre’s financial situation is secured through the allocation of the triennium budget by the university central (18.3M HK$) and the allocation of external grants and donations totaling 6M HK$ including the pledge of 3.9M HK$ of the French ministry to support the centre’s influenza research.