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Pioneering Biomedicine in the Greater Bay Area

Image Credits: CUHK, Press Release
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The Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) (CU Medicine), has achieved a significant milestone by establishing an internationally accredited biobank. Known as CU-Med Biobank, this accomplishment positions CUHK as a driving force in advancing biomedicine within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Furthermore, it solidifies Hong Kong’s emergence as a key biomedical research hub in the region.

The construction of the biobank began at the Prince of Wales Hospital in 2019, and after years of dedicated efforts, CU Medicine has received prestigious international accreditation [ISO 20387:2018(en)] from A2LA. This accreditation serves as a testament to the biobank’s adherence to high standards and places it among a select few in the Asia-Pacific region.

Alongside a biobank in South Korea, CU-Med Biobank is one of only two facilities that meet the stringent international requirements. This accreditation serves as a validation of Hong Kong’s potential to become a significant centre for new drug research and development within the Greater Bay Area.

Accelerating the R&D of new drugs

To drive advancements in new drug development and pioneering diagnostic technologies, it is essential to have both software and hardware capabilities, including the establishment of a biobank. A biobank serves as a crucial facility for the organised storage of clinical data and biological specimens. It goes beyond mere sample storage and encompasses robust management systems for handling diverse biological samples and conducting precise multi-omics analysis.

The Dean of Medicine and Head of the Steering Committee of CU-Med Biobank at CU Medicine highlighted the significance of biobanking standards. These standards not only impact the quality of academic research but also determine the potential for new drug development.

Achieving international accreditation for the biobank demonstrates CU Medicine’s ability to attract collaborations with top global scientific research teams and multinational pharmaceutical companies. This accreditation enhances CU Medicine’s credibility and positions it to collaborate with the Hospital Authority, contributing to the transformation of Hong Kong into a research and new drug development hub within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The Co-Head of the Executive Committee of CU-Med Biobank and is a Professor at the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at CU Medicine, highlights the rapid development of genomic research in the past two decades, driven by the emergence of precision medicine and personalised medicine.

A biobank is regarded as a valuable asset as it not only stores vast amounts of genetic data but also biospecimens that have the potential to generate various other biomarker information. This potential makes biobanks crucial in advancing medical research.

CU Medicine has been committed to achieving international standards right from the initial preparation stage of establishing their biobank. Through five years of dedicated work in system establishment, operation, and preparation, coupled with an extensive review process spanning over four months, the team has successfully obtained the ISO 20387:2018(en) accreditation this year.

The Scientific Officer of CU-Med Biobank highlighted the meticulous adherence to regulations in four key areas: sample acquisition, processing, storage, and distribution. It is through this strict compliance that the biobank has earned its international accreditation. This recognition is expected to have a significant impact on the advancement of biomedical research.

The accreditation will play a crucial role in promoting large-scale international research collaborations. It will attract scientific research teams and pharmaceutical institutions from both local and international settings, including mainland China, to engage in collaborative efforts.

Ultimately, this will enhance the efficiency and elevate the level of biomedical research conducted within the biobank, further establishing CU Medicine as a prominent centre for cutting-edge technological advancements in the field.

CU Medicine has made notable advancements in biomedical research through its CU-Med Biobank. Research teams have used the biobank for large-scale genomic studies, including breast cancer research, leading to the establishment of a dedicated Breast Cancer Biobank.

The Hong Kong Diabetes Biobank has contributed to identifying genetic and biological markers associated with diabetes and its complications. Additionally, CU Medicine’s Microbiota I-Centre has established a significant mother-infant cohort, positioning Hong Kong as a prominent hub in the microbiota industry.

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