Four Year 3 students, Dong Naiyu (Biology), Wang Runmin (Physics), Hua Muxin (Physics) and Zhao Lihan (Chinese Medicine) formed a team called BU Magician and won the Silver Project Award in the 2012 International Bio-molecular Design Competition (BIOMOD 2012) held recently at Harvard University, USA. They conducted rounds of in-vitro experiments on the use of a magnetic field with self-assembling magnetic nanoparticles to enhance drug delivery in cells. Their findings demonstrate possible applications of drug delivery in Parkinson's disease or other gene therapy. The HKBU team is the only winning team from Hong Kong among other competing teams from the US, Japan and Mainland China.
The HKBU team's project, entitled "Self-assembly of Iron Nanoparticles under Magnetic Field for siRNA Delivery", aimed at designing magnetic iron particles that would self-assemble under a magnetic field and increase the effectively of the uptake of small interference RNA (siRNA) into neuronal cells. Other previous studies demonstrated that a magnetic field could facilitate the internalisation of nanoparticles to increase the effectiveness of siRNA uptake. The findings of the HKBU team's project also indicate that self-assembling magnetic nanoparticles are useful for the delivery of specific siRNA, achieving the goal of neuroprotection by regulating certain protein expression.
Dong Naiyu, team leader of BU Magician shared her delight at winning the award: "We worked together well and pooled our knowledge in our specialties. I believe team spirit was an important factor in our success. I also appreciated the good division of labour and the encouragement we offered each other as a team."
The project, which lasted half a year, involved brainstorming, project design, experiment design, research, website production, and presentation of the results to the competition organiser located at Harvard University, USA. Looking back on those six months, Zhao Lihan said: "I am a Chinese Medicine student, yet by participating in this science project, I was able to experience the process of scientific research. I also realised that a strong will and perseverance in face of difficulties are essential for success in research." Lihan also expressed her gratitude for the guidance of Professor Ken Yung from the Department of Biology.
The project details can be found from: