Hong Kong Baptist UniversityBattling Epstein-Barr Virus

Battling Epstein-Barr Virus

A unique drug developed by a research team led by Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) can disrupt a vital protein associated with Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), leading to the shrinkage of tumours caused by the pathogen. It is the first known agent to successfully target the virus in this way.

EBV is one of the most common viruses in humans. It is associated with causing several cancers, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), which is highly prevalent in Hong Kong and southern China.

Led by Professor Gary Wong of the Department of Chemistry, the HKBU research team developed a new peptide drug with higher affinity to a protein called Epstein–Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1). EBNA1 normally plays a vital role in the maintenance of the viral genome and the proliferation of EBV-infected tumour cells.

The study reported promising results of the novel drug in an animal model, showing that the new compound can disrupt the structure and functions of EBNA1. The tumour cells will thus stop proliferating and die eventually.

(From left) Dr Lung Hong-lok, Dr Jiang Lijun, Professor Gary Wong and Professor Mak Nai-ki developed a novel drug for the treatment of EBV-related cancers such as nasopharyngeal cancer.

“This discovery lays a good foundation for the development of therapeutics for the treatment of EBV-associated diseases such as NPC,” said Professor Wong.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

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Faculty of Science
Department of Biology
Department of Chemistry

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