Research Projects
Manipulation of Bone Metabolism by Regulating Bivalent Cations in Bone Tissue Microenvironment


Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS
About the Project

Bone healing or repair is a biological process that can take weeks to months and patients suffering from bone fractures usually need extended time off work and away from normal activities. In particular, as baby boomers age, osteoporosis and fractures related to fragile bones is becoming a major problem needing urgent attention. There have been many attempts to enhance bone repair by mechanical means such as insertion of metallic implants and biological means such as the use of growth factors. Although anti-catabolic drugs can indirectly induce bone formation by suppressing the osteoclastic activity, atypical bone fractures have been documented sometime when this drug is prescribed to patients for a prolonged period of time. This phenomenon may be attributed to over-suppression of bone turnover that alters the bone strength, thereby compromising the mechanical properties. As many such treatments are accompanied by potential complications, there is extensive search in identifying a safer, more economical, and faster method to enhance bone formation and repair.

Bivalent cations e.g., magnesium has been shown to stimulate bone growth and healing by regulating the osteoblast, osteoclast and macrophage activity. Mg is also actively involved in the mineralisation process which controls bone formation and resorption. However, an excessively high concentration of magnesium is detrimental to osteoblasts and even prevents the formation of the bone extracellular matrix. While Mg ions are naturally found in the human body, it is still unclear why a particular local concentration of Mg is important to the regulation of osteogenesis. Hence, our research team has studied the effects of different concentrations of magnesium on various cell lines including osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and mesenchymal stem cells. The results demonstrate that a specific dosage of magnesium can significantly up-regulate the cellular activities in the cell lines monitored. Hence, our team develops various implantable cation-based bio-composites that enable precise controlled release of magnesium to convince in-situ bone formation. We believe that these discoveries will open up an exciting prospect of using bivalent cations in bone regeneration. This process is potentially cheaper, simpler, and safer than other current approaches.

About the Supervisor

Dr KWK Yeung, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

Kelvin Yeung has been passionate about applied orthopaedic biomaterial research and translation for more than 20 years. His major research areas include orthopaedic biomaterials, antibacterial coatings, 3D bio-printing and musculoskeletal tissue engineering. He trained as a materials scientist for his bachelor’s degree and then as an orthopaedic scientist in HKU Medical Faculty for his master’s degree and his PhD.

He is currently tenured professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong. His h-index is 49 (Scopus) with 8,061 citations and 54 (Google Scholar) with 10,010 citations. He has been consecutively ranked as the World’s Top 1% of Scientists in the field of biomaterials by Clarivate Analytics’ Essential Science Indicators (ESI) from 2014 to 2019. In addition to publishing 250 peer-reviewed SCI journal papers and filing 38 full patents in various countries, he co-founded OrthoSmart Limited with two senior colleagues to adapt their research findings for clinical use. He currently serves as interim CEO of the startup company. Furthermore, he has been invited to act as a consultant for several medical device and biomaterial corporations.

During these years, he participated in local and regional competitions and received a number of awards and scholarships, including the Young Scientist Award 2005 and the Young Engineer Award 2009 and Faculty Research Output Award 2019. For projects in which he has acted in the capacity of principal investigator or co-principal investigator, he has received over HK$75,000,000. Since 2006, he has supervised 14 PhD and 8 MPhil students. Furthermore, he has received 20 prizes and awards from local and international competitions and conferences. He has also been invited to deliver 80 plenary lectures, keynotes or invited talks at international and regional conferences [28th Sept 2020].

Biography
HKU Scholars Hub
wkkyeung@hku.hk

Next Step?

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website.

General admission enquiries should be directed to rpgmed@hku.hk.