PolyU-nurtured startup takes lead in implementing territory-wide large-scale liver disease screening programme As the first participating institution, PolyU drives translation of research…

According to the “2024 Global Hepatitis Report” by the World Health Organization, the number of lives lost due to viral hepatitis is increasing year by year, leading to 1.3 million deaths in 2022, claiming 3,500 lives each day in average, and resulting in it constituting the second leading cause of infectious disease deaths worldwide 1. In response to this global public health issue, Eieling Technology Limited (Eieling Technology), an academic-led startup nurtured and supported by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), has announced its leadership in implementation of the five-year “LiverCare – Hong Kong 10 Million Liver Scans Program” (the Programme), to improve public awareness of liver disease prevention, and promote early detection and treatment to reduce the impact of liver disease.

Prof. Christopher CHAO, Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU and Prof. ZHENG Yongping, Henry G. Leong Professor in Biomedical Engineering, Chair Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Research Institute of Smart Ageing of PolyU, joined by Mr Patrick LAU, Deputy Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council; Prof. Walter SETO, Clinical Professor in Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the University of Hong Kong; Dr Grace LAU, Head of the Institute for Translational Research of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP); Mr Xiaojia JIA, Chief Executive Officer of Eieling Technology Limited; and Ms Mildred LAW of the Hong Kong Liver Foundation officiated at the Programme launch ceremony yesterday (16 May).

PolyU has long been committed to translating its technologies into real-world applications. The University will support the Programme and become the first institution to conduct the Programme. Starting from July this year, PolyU will conduct liver fibrosis and fatty liver screening for full-time university staff using Liverscan®, a palm-size wireless ultrasound imaging device. Participants are also encouraged to join a two-year follow-up study. From the data collected, the research team will study the importance of a balanced diet and daily exercise, as well as regular liver disease screening for monitoring the progression of liver disease. PolyU believes that the programme can not only improve public awareness of liver disease prevention and promote early detection and treatment, but also help reduce the threat of liver disease to human health.

Prof. Chao said, “As a PolyU-nurtured start-up, Eieling Technology actively commercialises the University’s patents. With the support from investors and industries through the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem of PolyU, the company is able to translate its technologies into products with a positive impact on society. The launch of the programme marks a milestone for PolyU in contributing to the global public health, reflecting the University’s commitment to social responsibility and the translation of scientific research outcomes. In recent years, PolyU has strategically established technology innovation institutes in several cities in the Mainland China, aiming to combine PolyU’s unique advantages in basic research and innovation with the robust industrial bases and characteristics of various regions in the Mainland. This initiative promotes research and transformation of core technologies, cultivates innovative talents with knowledge in technology and global vision, and provides a more optimised application platform and scenarios for enterprises. Through these measures, PolyU will continuously strengthen its cooperation with cities in Mainland China, promote regional economic development, and also provide a favorable environment for university researchers to apply theory to practice and commercialise research findings.”

Eieling Technology, co-founded by Prof. Zheng and his research team in 2018, is a technology development company specialising in advanced medical ultrasound imaging devices designed to screen for liver diseases. Prof. Zheng and his PolyU research team combined transient elastography diagnostic technology with a real-time ultrasound image guided system to develop a solution called Liverscan® for liver fibrosis assessment. Liverscan® is an innovative medical device which, since it is palm-sized, wireless, lightweight and portable, easy to control and economical, allows medical staff to perform liver checkups on patients anytime, anywhere.

Prof. Zheng said, “Liver fibrosis can be caused by long-term inflammation of liver tissue, excessive alcohol intake or long-term fatty liver, and may develop into cirrhosis, liver dysfunction, or even liver cancer. We hope that through the ultrasound device Liverscan®, which can lower costs, shorten examination time, facilitate operation and improve measurement accuracy, liver disease assessment and screening will be widely available to people in the community, thereby reducing the number patients with severe liver disease in the coming years significantly.”

Eieling Technology has been supported by the PolyU Tech Launchpad Fund and the Incu-Bio Programme of HKSTP, as well as by secured funding from several industrial partners and private investors. Liverscan® has obtained registration approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA510K) and is being used in many well-known hospitals and clinics in Hong Kong, Macau and other places. Eieling Technology is also carrying out clinical research and cooperation with several hospitals in Mainland China. Liverscan® is expected to enter the market in Mainland China after receiving registration approval from the National Medical Products Administration in Q3 this year, and to be launched globally in 2025.

1World Health Organization- “Global hepatitis report 2024

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