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Lanthanide Tools for Systems Medicine: Therapeutic Challenges in Epstein-Barr Virus Cancers


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is aetiologically linked to at least seven distinct types of human cancers. With EBV-associated tumours collectively imposing a dramatic global health burden, estimated at 200,000 new cases annually, their complete eradication is highly imperative and is only achievable through a well-coordinated, multidisciplinary programme combining fundamental research and clinical assays. 

Theranostics is a new field of medicine that combines therapy based on specifically targeted diagnostic tests and imaging techniques enabling simultaneous follow-up of the treatment effects. With a key focus on individual patients, theranostics provides a transition from conventional medicine to a contemporary personalised and precision medicinal approach. A proposed joint laboratory, established according to research cooperation between Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), BP InnoMed Limited (an HKBU spin-off company focused on the development of anti-EBV drugs), and the Tsinghua University-founded Research Institute of Tsinghua, Pearl River Delta (RIT), will focus on developing theranostic agents combining therapy and dual-imaging techniques (optical and magnetic resonance) for inhibiting EBV-associated cancers. 


Professor Gary Wong is a well-known researcher specialising in different directions of lanthanide chemistry, including coordination chemistry, chemical biology and the development of lanthanide-based biomaterials. These can complement each other in advancing research in the life sciences, and the success of this application will open the door for HKBU researchers to innovate towards a new aspect: “Lanthanides for Life Science – Combatting EBV-associated Cancer”.


    • Proceedings of National Academy of Science USA, (2019) 26614-26624
    • Advanced Science, 6 (2019) 1900487
    • Light: Science & Applications, 7 (2018) 96
    • Nature Biomedical Engineering, (2017) 0042
    • (Highlighted in Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2017, 0059 and Cell Chemical Biology, 2017, 647)


    • Received Research Grants Council Research Matching Grant: HK$10 million
    • Professor Gary Wong and Dr Lung Hung-lok have established an HKBU-spin off company, BP InnoMed Limited, with assistance from the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU). Their company focuses on the development and commercialisation of theranostics inhibitors for eradicating EBV-associated malignancies. A sum of approximately RMB11 million has been invested in BP InnoMed by the Research Institute of Tsinghua, Pearl River Delta for the initial phase of drug development. They are now seeking support from the Incu-Bio Programme at Hong Kong Science Park.

    Project team members

    Professor Gary Wong (Principal Investigator)
    Head and Professor
    Department of Chemistry
    Faculty of Science
    Tel: (852) 3411 2370


    Dr Lung Hong-lok 
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Chemistry
    Faculty of Science
    Tel: (852) 3411 2447


    Professor Mak Nai-ki
    Department of Biology
    Faculty of Science
    Tel: (852) 3411 7059