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- Second Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Conference co-hosted by HKSTP and GIBH sees stem cell R&D ecosystem expanding in Hong Kong
New China-linked stem cell research centre in Hong Kong Science Park announced
From left to right in the front row:
1. Lap-Chee Tsui, President of The Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong and President of Victor and William Fung Foundation
2. Ko Wing-man, Secretary for Food and Health, HKSAR Government
3. Michael T. Murphy, Chief Development Officer, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, US
4. Fanny Law, Chairperson, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation
5. The Hon. CY Leung, The Chief Executive of HKSAR
6. Bai Chunli, President, Chinese Academy of Sciences
7. Nicholas Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology, HKSAR Government
8. Mr Albert Wong, Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation
From left to right in the back row:
1. Dr John J Casey, Director of the Scottish National Islet Transplant Programme and Chair UK Pancreas Transplant Advisory Group, University of Edinburgh/ Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
2. Martin Pera, Professor of Stem Cell Sciences University of Melbourne
3. Marc Turner, Medical Director of Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, Scotland
4. Pei Duanqing, Professor and Director General, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH), Chinese Academy of Sciences
5. Jacqueline Barry, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, UK
6. Prof. Philip Newsome, Director of Centre for Liver Research/ Professor of Hepatology, University of Birmingham
7. Prof. Li-Huei Tsai, Professor and Director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(Hong Kong, 21 December 2016) - Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (“HKSTP”) and Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health (“GIBH”) cohosted the second Hong Kong and Guangzhou International Conference on Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine on December 16. During this high-profile event which was attended by HKSAR Chief Executive The Hon CY Leung and a number of major government officials, the Chinese Academy of Science (“CAS”), a research and development authority in Mainland China, announced the setting up of the Guangzhou Hong Kong Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research Centre at Hong Kong Science Park (“HKSP”), under the auspices of its subsidiary GIBH.
Remarking on this significant initiative, The Hon. Fanny Law, GBS, JP, Chairperson of HKSTP, said: “We see opportunities for Hong Kong to evolve into a cell therapy centre, capitalising on Hong Kong’s world-class medical system, and credible clinical trial centres with data accepted by FDA, EMA as well as CFDA, which is unique to Hong Kong.”
“Our ambition is to grow an industry in advanced therapy medicinal products, leveraging on the complementary strengths of Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, to form a leading ‘Cell Therapy Valley’ where the latest technologies are being developed, tested and implemented for the benefit of ethnic Chinese patients who suffer from existing incurable diseases,” Mrs Law said.
Prof Bai Chunli, President of CAS, said that the proposed research centre “will create the environment for stakeholders to make connections, share information and tap into each other’s academic resources for the benefits of the world”, and the centre has the potential to mature into a platform that will “strengthen existing partnerships, maximise innovation capacities and reinforce strategic co-operations of the science and technology communities between China and Hong Kong”.
GIBH is yet another world-renowned biomedicine research authority to set up its base in HKSP, after Karolinska Institutet, which opened the Hong Kong node of its dedicated regenerative medicine facility, the Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine, at HKSP in October 2016. HKSP is also home to 14 other stem cell and cell therapy companies from around the world.
Experts propose single stream of legislation to facilitate HK’s stem cell research
At the conference, expert speakers shared their latest research discoveries and insights in stem cell therapy for liver fibrosis, cell therapy for diabetes, and epigenetic fingerprinting and tissue engineering that facilitate pre-clinical drug discovery for Alzheimer’s disease, reaffirming stem cell therapy holds great promise in curing debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injury, diabetes and stroke and presenting great potentials for researchers in the field.
As HKSTP is stepping up its effort to develop HKSP and Hong Kong as the ideal R&D base and hub for stem cell research and regenerative medicine, Mrs Law pointed out at the conference that a set of clear regulatory guidelines that facilitates clinical translation of advanced cell therapies while safeguarding the interests of patients is fundamental for realising this vision.
World stem cell experts from the US, the UK, Mainland China, Europe and Australia attending the Stem Cell Conference joined Hong Kong colleagues in a pre-event round-table discussion to recommend the way forward for the regulatory environment in Hong Kong, referencing the regulatory structures in other countries. Group convenor Prof Marc Turner, who is the Medical Director of Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, reported at the conference that the group suggested a single stream of legislation covering supply of starting materials, manufacture, administration and follow up.
“Since Hong Kong has a relatively clear space, our advice would be to join up tissue and cell legislation with cellular therapy and advanced therapy legislation all in one piece, to be consistent. That would be the most coherent way to do it, therefore in the longer term it will be the most efficient,” he said.
HKSTP Chief Executive Officer Mr Albert Wong said: “HKSTP has established a strong rapport with the global biomedical community. This is apparent in the sterling speaker lineup of our Stem Cell Conference. Stem cell R&D is a key pillar for supporting healthy ageing, which is one of the key priorities of HKSTP. We will redouble efforts in building the cell therapy ecosystem in Science Park and help the community excel and develop, so that we can ride on the global momentum of stem cell R&D to move forward in the advanced therapy value chain, as Hong Kong endeavours to develop an appropriate regulatory environment for this field.”
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