Professor Ken Yung of the Department of Biology has recently been awarded the Overseas, Hong Kong and Macau Young Scholars Collaborative Research Fund by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Professor Yung received a grant of RMB 2 million in support of an extended research project on "Modulations of microRNAs by traditional Chinese medicine in drug addiction and therapeutic effects in the central nervous system and periphery".
Since 2008, Professor Yung has worked closely with his collaborator, Professor Mo Zhixian of the Southern Medical University (formerly the First Military Medical University) on the Mainland, to investigate how active ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine can help reduce drug abusers' craving for drugs. The findings broke new ground in drug rehabilitation.
In the coming four years, Professor Yung and his team will carry out further in-depth investigations on the active ingredient of the Chinese herb Ramulus Uncariae cum Uncis and its ability to restore the number of microRNA in drug abusers. MicroRNA are non-protein coding genes which regulate gene expression. The findings of Professor Yung's research so far provide insights on possible ways to lessen drug addicts' cravings and to design effective rehabilitation therapy to tackle abuse of drugs such as methamphetamine, ketamine and methcathinone.
Expressing his delight on receiving the grant, Professor Yung said, "I am honoured that our research efforts were recognised at the national level. I also hope that the research will contribute to the application of traditional Chinese medicines in drug rehabilitation, taking into consideration the mutual advantages of neurobiology, cell transformation, as well as clinical and laboratory research in Chinese medicine in Hong Kong and China."
Professor Yung has a wide range of research interests, in particular neuroscience, drug discovery and biosensors. His expertise includes the development of novel therapeutic approaches for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, and also for drug addiction.