HONG KONG, Dec. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation ("HKSTP") and Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health ("GIBH") today co-hosted the Hong Kong & Guangzhou International Conference on Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine in Hong Kong Science Park. The conference opening saw the Hon. C Y Leung, Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR, the Hon. Fanny Law, GBS, JP, Chairperson of HKSTP and Prof. Ruiming Xu, Director for Bureau of Frontier Sciences and Education, Chinese Academy of Sciences, deliver opening speeches.
The full-day conference covered topics ranging from stem cell research, applications to regulatory principles and ethics, with presentations and discussions held by an all-star line-up of academics and stem cell professionals from global research institutes such as Harvard University, State University of New Jersey, University of Washington, University of Cambridge, Weizmann Institute of Science, University of Melbourne, Karolinska Institutet and GIBH.
The conference, held in Hong Kong Science Park with a goal to establish Hong Kong as a stem cell hub in the Asia and global stages, was well attended by over 400 industry leaders and academics with expertise in stem cell research from around the world. Apart from a series of keynote sessions, 28 academic and industry stem cell projects from Hong Kong were showcased via booth exhibition.
World renowned scientists speaking at the conferences include Prof. Wise Young, Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology & Neuroscience, Richard H. Shindell Chair in Neuroscience, Founding Director of the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, Prof. Lee L. Rubin, Professor and Director of Translational Medicine of Harvard University and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Prof. Duanqing Pei, Professor and Director General of GIBH, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Prof. E. Peter Greenberg, Shaw Laureate of the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine 2015 and Professor of Department of Microbiology of University of Washington.
"Stem cell research promises treatment options for various untreatable diseases and even cancers - mishaps that many people may succumb to as they age - therefore it is worthy of our strong support to develop stem cell technologies. We already have a number of start-ups and companies working on stem cell technologies in the Science Park community, and we welcome researchers or institutes interested in pursuing the subject to explore their options with us," said the Hon. Fanny Law, GBS, JP, Chairperson of HKSTP. "The world's population is ageing, and we need to have methods to take good care of our ageing population. This is why Healthy Ageing is one of the key strategic focuses of HKSTP."
Prof. Wise Young, Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology & Neuroscience, Richard H. Shindell Chair in Neuroscience, Founding Director of the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, and keynote speaker in the conference commended that Hong Kong has a very supportive environment for stem cell research and development and the cost of clinical trial in Hong Kong is low. "HKSTP has also provided comprehensive support in the area. As Karolinska Institutet is in the process of setting up a stem cell research and regenerative medicine facility in Hong Kong Science Park, I believe every stem cell company in the world will be attracted to the city, and Hong Kong will become the Asian hub for stem cell research," Prof. Young said.
Keynote speaker Prof. Lee L. Rubin, Professor and Director of Translational Medicine of Harvard University and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute said, "Like all technologies, stem cell R&D is an evolutionary process which requires patience and commitment from all parties as well as a long-term vision. I am glad to see that Hong Kong is taking stem cell development forward, fueled by the Hong Kong government's commitment in recognizing the importance of science and medicine to the society. The Chief Executive's attendance today is a key indicator of the level of government support in stem cell development."
Hong Kong geared up to facilitate stem cell technology early stage industrialisation
Mr Allen Ma, Chief Executive Officer of HKSTP commented on Hong Kong's strength in capitalising on the economic and societal potentials bought by the development of stem cell technologies, "Hong Kong is well-positioned to become an Asian Hub for stem cell technologies and early stage industrialisation of the technology. With free information flow including genetic information, strong IP protection, patient ethnicity, access to samples of diseases specific to the region, a medical system with global credentials and clinical data recognized by FDA1, EMA2 and CFDA3, Hong Kong is the meeting place where stem cell science from the west and east can intersect."
"Researchers in Hong Kong can easily tap into various public and private funding options, as well as a well-established legal system, a pool of world-class healthcare and bio-medical talent. Research facilities established in Hong Kong also ensure researchers can get access to state-of-the-art equipment for conducting their study on the subject. Hong Kong's advantages are further amplified by the comprehensive support from enablers such as HKSTP, which, in addition to providing facilities and incubation programmes, often hold community events and seminars to facilitate collaboration and the exchange of ideas between subject experts, allowing researchers to stay in touch with the international scientific community while being in close proximity to China - one of the world's centres of stem cell research and clinical application", Ma said.
The benefits of conducting scientific research in Hong Kong have been steadily gaining recognition among the international community. Karolinska Institutet, a medical university from Sweden is in the process of setting up a stem cell research facility in Hong Kong Science Park to take advantage of the city's supportive environment. Prof. Urban Lendahi, Professor of Genetics, Karolinska Institutet said in a special announcement made during the conference today, "The centre in Hong Kong Science Park will be the major node of the two under the Ming Wai Lau Centre of Regenerative Medicine. Core research on stem cell and regenerative medicine will be done here in Science Park and we are making international calls to invite experts to lead our four junior groups here. The centre will foster broader cooperation and overarching ambitions - we expect to groom the next generation science leaders, forge new interactions between Hong Kong and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and provide new gateways to Europe and China. We are delighted to do all these in the vibrant environment of Science Park", Prof. Urban said.
A vibrant ecosystem for stem cell research
At the moment, Hong Kong Science Park is home to a dozen stem cell technology companies who are focussing on the R&D and application of stem cells in areas such as dermatology, musculoskeletal system, cardiovascular system, liver and neural stem cells. Stem cell derived tissues such as cartilage, liver strips and human mini-heart have been successfully produced by the research teams in Science Park and some such as cartilage may be amenable for clinical trial soon.
"As Hong Kong's driver of innovation and technology development, HKSTP is committed to supporting all kinds of scientific research, including the research of stem cell-based treatments. Hong Kong has all the elements ready to embrace stem cell research and offer high-value sustainable technological solutions. We look forward to extending our support to more researchers of this subject, so we may together shape the city into an international scientific research hub and spearhead the development of stem cell applications for future economic and social benefits", Ma added.
1 US Food and Drug Administration
2 European Medicines Agency
3 China Food and Drug Administration
About Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation
Comprising Science Park, InnoCentre and Industrial Estates, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) is a statutory body dedicated to building a vibrant innovation and technology ecosystem to connect stakeholders, nurture technology talents, facilitate collaboration, and catalyse innovations to deliver social and economic benefits to Hong Kong and the region.
Established in May 2001, HKSTP has been driving the development of Hong Kong into a regional hub for innovation and growth in several focused clusters including Electronics, Information & Communications Technology, Green Technology, Biomedical Technology, Materials and Precision Engineering. We enable science and technology companies to nurture ideas, innovate and grow, supported by our R&D facilities, infrastructure, and market-led laboratories and technical centres with professional support services. We also offer value added services and comprehensive incubation programmes for technology start-ups to accelerate their growth.
Technology businesses benefit from our specialised services and infrastructure at Science Park for applied research and product development; enterprises can find creative design support at InnoCentre; while skill-intensive businesses are served by our three industrial estates at Tai Po, Tseung Kwan O and Yuen Long.
More information about HKSTP is available at www.hkstp.org.
SOURCE The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation