|OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH ACTIVITIES|
There has been a gradual step-up of basic and clinical research activities on cancer since the opening up of the Cancer Center in November 1994.
Basic and clinical research in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been very active in the past few years. The basic scientific projects that are being conducted include liver regeneration in animal model, detection of alpha fetoprotein variant, molecular markers and novel gene expression in HCC. In collaboration with the Department of Clinical Oncolory, cytogenetic studies on HCC are developing fast and have resulted in significant progress. Clinical research in the use of selective internal irradiation and new immunochemotherapy for inoperable HCC had also resulted in converting inoperable diseases to operable in about 20% of patients.
Research into the application of laparoscopic-assisted resection in colorectal cancer patientss is one of the major areas of interest. Not only providing training opportunity of this advanced laparoscopic surgical technique, it has also spinned off into a number of clinical trials and basic research projects.
Our Department consolidates its leading position in surgical endoscopy by continuing clinical studies of therapeutic endoscopy in patients with oesophageal cancer, ulcer bleeding, acute calculus cholangitis, malignant jaundice and variceal bleeding. Work at our hospital has established the role of combination treatment for ulcer bleeding, endoscopic ultrasound for the assessment of oesophageal varices and the use of mother and baby endoscopy for patients with very large common bile duct stones. Clinical studies on adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy for oesophageal cancer are in progress. Gastric cancer is another focus of research in our department. We have established the relationship between Helicobacter pylori, the detoxifying enzyme Glutathione S - transferase and gastric cancer. Currently we are looking at the pathogenesis of gastric cancer in relationship to Helicobacter pylori.
The Plastic Surgical Unit is active in burns epidemiology studies. Clinical studies involve the development of novel surgical strategies to alter cell-matrix interactions in post-burn scar tissue. These use both tissue-engineered dermal regeneration templates as well as various epidermal cell delivery systems. Skin cancer research is focusing on the search for an explanation for the dramatic differences in incidence of basal cell carcinoma in Caucasian and Oriental populations.
Research in the treatment of nasopharyngeal cancer received a boost in July 1996 with the arrival of a drug/light photodynamic therapy combination that promises to be twenty times more tumour selective and toxic than the earlier programme. We are expecting further breakthroughs in this area. The Department conducts basic research in nasopharyngeal cancer regarding the biological modulation of growth of nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells by interferon-alpha and 13-cis retinoic acid as assessed by vitro chemosensiticity (MTT) test.
The Cochlear Implant Programme, functional endoscopic sinus surgery and The Hong Kong Flap have made our centre the leader in these fields in Hong Kong and South East Asia.
The Neurosurgical Unit is active in clinical and experimental research in head injury, brain tumour and train haemorrhage. Our work on head injury has been strong, which includes epidemiology, risk-factor analysis, multi-modality haemodynamic monitoring, rehabilitation and experimental head injury. We also have long term collaborative projects with our neuropathologist on the clinical, histopathology and molecular genetics aspects of brain tumours. Hyponatraemia associated with central nervous system disorders has been our unit interest: on-going clinical and experimental projects on its pathophysiology are in place.
The Paediatric Surgical Unit continues its active research on (i) the development of bladder function and micturition control in infants and young children with correlation to urodynamic, polysomnographic and immunohistochemical changes; (ii) relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection with recurrent abdominal pain, peptic ulcer disease and preneoplastic gastric mucosal changes in children; (iii) laparoscopic surgery in infants and young children; and (iv) fetal endoscopic surgery.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) has been a hot topic for discussion in 1998. The Urology Unit is involved in a randomized, case-controlled, double-blinded, multicenter trial of the efficacay of Sildenafil in Asian patients suffering from ED. Several instruments for the measurement of ED has been designed and a study on the scoring system to measure ED is being carried out. In collaboration with the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, a project involving the effect on the optic nerve with the use of Sildenalfil has been planned. The Urology Unit also studies the efficacy of a new formulation of alpha-blocker in the management of symptoms arising from benign prostate hyperplasia and its ability to reduce the side effects inherent with alpha-blockers. Animal models of the development of transitional cell carcinoma in the urinary bladder were studied. Early results are encouraging and molecular models have been designed for further elaboration of the data.
Research of the Cardiothoracic Unit is focused on the development of minimally invasive thoracic surgery which includes video assisted thoracoscopic surgery and interventional bronchoscopy - we are exploring new frontiers in the application of this technique in the treatment of a variety of thoracic conditions. Studies are also being carried out to investigate the immunological and metabolic responses in pigs following thoracoscopic versus open surgery. Research into minimally invasive cardiac surrey is also being undertaken.
SURGICAL RESEARCH LABORATORIES
Information about the laboratory
The Surgical Research Laboratory is an integrated part of Department of Surgery, CUHK. Its main aim is to promote research activities in the areas related to surgical sciences and to provide a research platform for members and students of our Department. Our laboratory has two locations; one in Sir YK Pao Cancer Centre (3rd & 4th floors) and the other at the Lee Hysan Clinical Research Laboratories in Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences (10th floor). The laboratory is equipped with various instruments for cellular and molecular research as well as for animal study. The laboratory consists of 12 regular members: a professor, two postdoctoral fellow/research associate, two senior technicians, four technicians/research assistants, two laboratory attendants and one general clerk. In addition, there are a number of postgraduate students working in the laboratories for PhD or master degrees.
The laboratory is actively pursuing a number of research projects together with faculty members. Many of these projects are in the frontier of relevant scientific areas, such as hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatitis B virus x protein, transcription factors in hepatocellular carcinoma, colorectal cancer and T-regulatory cells, brain tumor and apoptosis, porcine model for gene therapy of vein graft failure, lung cancer and smoking carcinogens, hormones and thyroid cancer. In addition to collaboration with various departments in our University and local institutes, our laboratory is linked to a number of institutes in China, United Kingdom and United States of America. We encourage collaboration with academic or industrial organizations and we welcome prospective postgraduate students to join us for either doctoral or master program study. Generally speaking, our laboratories have the following research areas of interest:
Angiogenesis and cancers
Anti-tumor Chinese herbal medicines
Apoptosis, chemotherapy and cancers
Cancer gene therapy
Carcinogenesis of viral products
Estrogen, estrogen receptors and cancers
Facilities and research techniques available in the laboratory
Absorbance/luminescence/fluorescence plate reader
Animal study facilities
Automatic DNA sequencer
Cell and tissue culture facilities
Liquid nitrogen containers and -80¢XC freezers
Real-time PCR machine
Typhoon 8600 Imaging System
Various instruments for RNA and protein experiments
Continue and enhance our current research projects by seeking further collaboration with others.
Establishment of our laboratories as a key surgical research venue in Asia-Pacific areas.
Encouragement of medical doctors to pursuing their MD projects in our laboratories.
Attraction of more prospective postgraduate students to join us.
Professor George G Chen
Tel: (852) 2632 3934
Fax: (852) 2637 7974