CUHK Opens Phase I Clinical Trial Centre To Step Up New Drug Development in Hong Kong
18 December 2013 Commissioned by the Food and Health Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has established the Phase I Clinical Trial Centre (CTC) to strengthen clinical research and development of new drugs in Hong Kong and Asia. The opening ceremony was held today (18 December), officiated by Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President, CUHK; Prof. Jiang Ji, Director, Phase I Unit, Clinical Pharmacology Research Center, Peking Union Medical College Hospital; Prof. Francis K.L. Chan, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK; and Prof. Anthony T.C. Chan, Chief Director, Phase I Clinical Trial Centre, CUHK, and joined by over 300 guests.
Located at 11EF in the Prince of Wales Hospital, the CUHK Phase I Clinical Trial Centre is established with three objectives: 1) to become an internationally recognized centre of excellence for the development of new drugs by recruiting patients with special medical needs and healthy volunteers to participate in the research; 2) to boost the competitiveness of Hong Kong in drug research and development by fostering partnerships with academic institutions and the pharmaceutical industry in clinical research; and 3) to promote knowledge transfer and education amongst health care professionals in early phase drug development in Hong Kong and the region.
At the ceremony, Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President, CUHK said, ‘I must extend our gratitude to all those who have contributed to making this Phase I CTC possible, especially the Food and Health Bureau and the Department of Health of the HKSAR Government, as well as the Hospital Authority. I am proud of the achievements of the phase I researchers in CUHK and I believe they will continue to strive for excellence, contributing to the well-being of mankind.’
Over the past decades, the introduction of new drugs has provided more and better therapeutic options for various diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The development of a new drug has to undergo at least 7 years of rigorous clinical trials in human subjects, requiring the participation of a large number of volunteers at different stages of research. Phase I clinical trial is the first and critical step in this arduous process that brings drugs from the laboratory to clinical application. It determines the safest and most biologically effective dosage of new drugs, facilitating the large-scale evaluation in phase II and III trials. In the past, phase I trials were almost exclusively conducted in the West where most new drugs are introduced. Recently, more multi-national pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions have relocated their R&D operations to Asia, focusing on the development of new drugs for Asian-prevalent diseases such as diabetes, viral hepatitis and certain types of cancer. The demand for early phase clinical trial centres with related professionals and facilities thus greatly increases.
The CUHK Phase I Clinical Trial Centre boasts a seasoned research team with over 10 years’ experience and remarkable research achievements in the field. The Centre has established extensive network with academic and pharmaceutical partners and is well-positioned to develop into the regional hub of phase I clinical trials.
Prof. Francis Chan, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK said, ‘The CUHK Faculty of Medicine is committed to translating academic research to clinical applications to improve the effectiveness of therapies. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies on drug and medical development.’
The safety of research participants is the first priority of CUHK Phase I Clinical Centre. The Centre is equipped with 36-bed inpatient facility and mobile medical monitoring and surveillance. Each bed has its own dedicated resuscitation apparatus and emergency alarms. The storage facility for drugs and tissue samples is equipped with temperature and humidity control systems. The Hospital Authority will support the Centre by providing emergency services of the Prince of Wales Hospital. The patient-centered approach of the Centre is also reflected in the cozy design of the entertainment area with internet access, audio-visual equipment and other ‘homely’ facilities.
Prof. Anthony Chan, Chief Director of the Phase I Clinical Trial Centre said, ‘The fundamental principle of conducting research in human subjects in all phases is to safeguard the safety and welfare of each study participant. We are indebted to the participants for their selfless contribution and participation in clinical trials, leading to the advances in medical science.’