October 20, 2020

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Science and Technology Development Fund presents results of six Covid-19 research projects

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The Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) today (Wednesday) presented the results of six subsidised research projects...

The Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) today (Wednesday) presented the results of six subsidised research projects connected to Covid-19 pandemic prevention and treatment projects.

These included two projects from University of Macau, two from Macau Science and Technology University (MUST) and two from private companies, which had their interim reports presented at the Macau Science Centre today.

In February of this year, the fund opened an application round for local universities, research institutions, science and technology enterprises and scientific researchers to apply for funding to pandemic prevention-related projects, with 74 applications received.

The 74 projects include 54 university projects, 16 projects from science and technology companies, one science and technology community project and three individual projects.

The expected duration range of the research projects varied from three to 12 months, with some 16 projects said to have already obtained results.

The maximum support granted for this specific round was capped at MOP500,000 (US$62,636), with a member of the fund’s administrative committee, Paul Cheang Kun Wai, saying today that about MOP10 million were provided.

The two projects by MUST included an AI-assisted diagnostic system for Covid-19 and research on an antiviral nasal agent based on Chinese traditional medicine, the first developed by the university’s faculty of medicine and the second by MUST’s State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese medicine.

According to Mr. Cheong the diagnosis system developed by MUST can detect the novel coronavirus in about 20 seconds, has a 99 per cent success rate and is already in use at the university’s hospital.

However, previously the MUST Faculty of Medicine, Professor Manson Fok, pointed out that back in February the university made a MOP500,000 (US$62,636) subsidy request to the FDCT for a Covid-19 vaccine investigation which was refused.

When inquired about the reasons for the refusal Mr. Cheang stated that applications for this support were open to the public and were evaluated by a professional jury panel, with the MUST vaccine project not fulfilling the requirements to have financing approved.

“I think it is a fair process and you must pass the competition […] If they want to have the funding it has to pass the evaluation of professionals in the area,” Mr. Cheang indicated.

The vaccine project and the AI test system projects both involved MUST Faculty of Medicine Professor, Zhang Kang.

Today two projects by UM researchers were also introduced, including the Digifluidic Covid-19 rapid test kit.

Jointly developed by UM and health tech company Digifluidic Biotech Ltd, the Covid-19 rapid test kit was said to have completed its first two stages of development, namely, design and screening of primers and probes for target genes, and trial production of digital microfluidic chops and support systems.

A clinical trial was also carried out between July 9 and 12 at a hospital in Guangzhou, with more systematic evaluations to be carried out.

The other UM project introduced today included novel iridium based Covid-19 detection probe, which could reduce false positives in novel coronavirus detections.

The research was led by UM Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences Professor Chung-Hang Leung.

One of the private companies that received FDCT funding was Macau Nanometals Technology Co., Ltd and an antibacterial disinfection slurry and film based on nanosilver.

The company claims to have developed four nano silver antibacterial paste products for disinfection able to kill up to 99.99 per cent of bacterias, plus three nano silver antibacterial film products. It has also applied for eight patents.

Macau Nanometals considers that the products would be suitable for use in hotel transportation and transportation.

Meanwhile, a company named Habitat Multimedia Co Ltd. said to have developed in conjunction with a mainland company, a non-contact human body temperature detection equipment, combining near-infrared bio-assay and visible light face recognition all-in-one.

Accoridng to the company the technology is already in use in several social welfares, education and medical institutions, and by catering groups and technology companies.

These included some Fuhong Society centres, the Macau Science Center and even the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Forum Macao) Permanent Secretariat Supporting Office.

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