Dr. Cheung King Ho is currently Associate Professor of the School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU). He received his Bachelor degree from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and his Doctorate (Physiology) from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He then pursued his postdoctoral training in ion channel physiology and neuroscience at The University of Pennsylvania in the U.S., under the supervision of Professor Kevin Foskett for seven years.
An expert in cell signalling, molecular neuroscience and neurodegeneration, Dr. Cheung has been diligently investigating the structure/function of ion channels and their roles in disease pathogenesis. One of his research goals is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of neuronal Ca2+ (calcium ion) dysregulation in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). His team successfully demonstrated that the mutant gene causing familial AD physically interacts with the inositol trisphosphate receptor and changes its channel gating behaviour. Later on, Dr. Cheung discovered the role of Ca2+ dysregulation in destabilising neuron connections that leads to memory deterioration in AD. Not only have these valuable findings broadened our knowledge of the pathogenesis of AD but also suggested new targets for therapeutic interventions.
Dr. Cheung joined HKBU in 2017 and teamed up with Professor Li Min, Associate Dean of the School of Chinese Medicine and Director of the Mr. & Mrs. Ko Chi Ming Centre for Parkinson’s Disease Research, to explore the applications of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in treating neurodegenerative diseases. The team chose autophagy, a mechanism that allows cells to recycle essential components during stress, as the molecular target for treating neurodegenerative diseases. It is known that the autophagic pathway is impaired in many neurodegenerative diseases, but the underlying mechanism is not fully understood.
Dr. Cheung’s team again demonstrated that impaired autophagy in AD is due to the hyperactivity of a lysosomal Ca2+ channel called “Two-pore channel”. In addition, he moved on to test whether TCM compounds could reverse autophagy impairment and ameliorate AD pathologies. With much effort, the team found that the traditional Chinese herbal formula Huang-Lian-Jie-Du-Tang (HLJDT), comprised of Huang Lian, Huang Qin, Huang Bai and Zhi Zi, could significantly reduce amyloid-beta (Aβ) levels in mouse models when Huang Qin was removed; while Yan Hu Suo in the Chinese herbal formula Yuan-Hu Zhi Tong could regulate the aggregation of hyperphosphorylated-tau proteins. The abnormal accumulation of Aβ and tau proteins in the brain is a typical characteristic of AD. By combining the modified HLJDT without Huang Qin and Yan Hu Suo with two other herbs Dan Shen and Gou Teng, a potential novel treatment for AD named NeuroDefend has been developed. A patent for this invention has been filed in the U.S. and Mainland China.
Dr. Cheung and his team are dedicated to advancing TCM clinical application. They have modified some neuroprotective TCM herbal compounds to reduce their toxicity while increasing bioavailability and efficacy against neurodegenerative diseases. They are now investigating the therapeutic mechanisms of these compounds on autophagy, neuroinflammation, and cell senescence. As of December 2022, Dr. Cheung has secured 15 external grants. He has published more than 70 scientific papers in renowned academic journals including Cell, Neuron, Autophagy, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Science Signaling with over 4,500 citations. He also serves on the editorial boards of Frontiers in Pharmacology and International Journal of Molecular Sciences. He is a mentor scientist of the Hong Kong Brain Foundation.
Mr. Vincent Woo and Mrs. Lily Woo
“Since its founding in 1999, HKBU's School of Chinese Medicine has been developing various platforms to conduct innovative research, engaging experts in the testing, authentication and standardisation of Chinese medicine, contributing to the improvement of public health and the well-being of mankind. I hope this first-ever associate professorship endowment at HKBU and the continuous support from our Foundation will help advance the development and internationalisation of Chinese medicine, to elevate its status in modern medicine.”