Prof. Peter Pak Hang CHEUNG
Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK
Dr Peter Cheung is currently an Assistant Dean (Research) and Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He obtained his bachelor’s and Master's degree from Queen’s University, Canada, and Western University, Canada, respectively, and his doctorate degree from The University of Hong Kong. Dr Cheung's research interest focuses on using computational, statistical, structural, and enzymological approaches to study viral replications and prevention strategies for infectious diseases. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Croucher-Butterfield Ph.D. Scholarship (Croucher Foundation), Best Poster Presentation Award (The University of Hong Kong), and Finalist of the Hong Kong Young Scientist Award (Hong Kong Institution of Science). He has published extensively in the field of computational and structural biology. His original research findings have been published as first or corresponding authors in leading international journals including those of the Lancet Microbe, BMJ, Nature Catalysis, Nucleic Acids Research, and Nature Communications. His work has been supported by the Research Grants Committee’s General Research Fund and Collaborative Research Fund, with which he led international efforts to study viral replication of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 replication using structural, computational, and enzymology approaches.
Computational and Structural Biology Approaches to Address Challenges of an Effective Vaccine
We will first discuss our recent studies on COVID-19 vaccination effectiveness. Then, challenges to vaccine development will be highlighted, such as protection for high-risk populations, the evolution of antibody escape variants, and the production of stable vaccine strains. We have employed computational, structural biology, and statistical approaches to try to overcome these challenges.
Currently, there is a lack of studies on booster regiments composed of vaccine combinations, especially for older and immunocompromised groups. We performed a comprehensive analysis with the largest sample size to date to assess 24 COVID-19 vaccination regimens encompassing 7 vaccine types worldwide. We showed that a three-dose mRNA regimen reduces the chance of immunocompromised and elderly (over 65) patients developing asymptomatic or symptomatic COVID-19 infections, and a third dose is necessary to protect against Omicron infection. The findings will help shape public health policy, patient care, and vaccination research. Ongoing investigations focus on the effectiveness of the fourth dosage regimen against novel variants. To prepare for future variants, especially those that may elude vaccination neutralization, we are developing computer models to evaluate viral fitness and construct their antigenic evolutionary paths. This technique can profile present variants and forecast future antigenic variants, hence facilitating pandemic preparedness. Lastly, we will show how structural biology can facilitate the design of innovative inactivated virus vaccines with high genetic stability while maintaining a high virus replication rate for manufacturing.