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Developing a Health Shield Professor Xia Ningshao

XMUICE    Public:ICE    Datetime:2011/4/26

On January 14th, 2011, a ceremony was held in the Great Hall of People in Beijing for the presentation of the 2010 National Science and Technology Awards, the highest national award in the field. Among the 2010 laureates was Professor Xia Ningshao, of the National Institute of Diagnostics and Vaccine Development in Infectious Diseases at Xiamen University, representing his team, who received a second-class award for their discovery of an effective conformational antigenic determinant for the Hepatitis E virus and its applicability in diagnosis. The presentation fills a gap in Xiamen´s record in this national award. The research results were published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, and received high praise from Dr. Scott D. Holmberg, the Chief of Epidemiology for the Centres for Disease Control and Preventions Division of Hepatitis Prevention. Such international recognition puts China among the global leaders in research into Hepatitis E vaccines.
Hepatitis E is the principal form of acute hepatitis resulting in death among the middle-aged and elderly and pregnant women. The Institutes discovery of this antigenic determinant has led to the development of a genetically engineered antigen, which is now in large scale production. The Institute has developed three types of reagent kit for the diagnosis of three varieties of infection: hepatitis E acute infection, previous infection and animal infection, which they have successfully industrialised and launched internationally. The institute has been awarded Good Manufacturing Practice and Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product certificates, and have been granted three domestic or international patents for their kits. The products have received two certificates of licensing as new drugs or treatments and have been approved for the CE mark of the EU. They have an 80% share of the Chinese market, and are available in 23 other countries and regions, including the US, the UK and France, with total sales of over 9 million units. Prof. Xia and his team have developed a strong shield to protect humanities´ health through their extraordinary research achieve-ments.
Xia Ningshao is a professor in the Biology Department of Xiamen University where he supervises doctoral candidates, and is concurrently Director of the National Institute of Diagnostic and Vaccine Development in Infectious Diseases at Xiamen University. He started research career in 1990, and joined Xiamen University in 1995 as an Associate Researcher at the School of Life Sciences, and went on to become a full professor and doctoral supervisor. He was appointed Director of the Fujian Provincial Research Centre on Medical Molecular Virology at Xiamen University in 2003, and has been Director of the National Institute of Diagnostics and Vaccine Development in Infectious Diseases at Xiamen University since 2005.

Academic achievements

Prof. Xia is a major researcher in molecular virology and genetic engineering, with his principal interests lying in the development of genetically engineered antigens, vaccines, diagnostic antigen kits and studies on molecular virology and immune system.

Prof. Xia was the first to identify two neutralising epitopes of the Hepatitis E virus, and to express the HEV particle using e-coli. He has applied for three international patents in respect of his developments, and his Hepatitis E recombinant vaccine, has already passed stages I and II of the clinical trials to be licensed as national class-one new drug.
A recombinant HIV antigen and the third-generation diagnostic reagent kit developed by Prof. Xia match the standards the best kits currently available internationally. The kit has had a market share of 20% for two consecutive years, putting it in first place domestically. In 2002, the kit was listed among the National Key New Products by six ministerial level institutes, including the Ministry of Science and Technology, and in 2003, the research project behind it was given the Model Industrialisation Project award by the National Development and Reform Commission.
Prof. Xia developed the worlds first test kit for the rapid diagnosis of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in co-operation with researchers at University of Hong Kong and Shantou University, launched on November 11th, 2004. It was awarded funding from the Special HPAI Prevention and Treatment Programme under the National Scientific Key Project in 2005.
In 2009, Prof. Xia and his research team succeeded in developing a test kit for the rapid diagnosis of the Influenza A virus. The kit can be used in the detection of currently known Influenza A viral strains responsible for infections among humans, including the currently rampant H1N1 virus. It is 10100 times more sensitive than other available test kits.

Professional reputation

The National Institute of Diagnostics and Vaccine Development in Infectious Diseases at Xiamen University has been granted many first-class honorary titles for its many outstanding scientific achievements; these include Fujian Province Vanguard Team for the New March, Fujian Provincial and Xiamen Municipal Pioneering Workers Team, Fujian Province May 1st Pioneering Team, and Xiamen University Nanqiang Outstanding Research Team. Prof. Xia therefore has received extensive media and public coverage. However, whenever he is interviewed by the media, the first thing he says is, Research is a team effort; if you want to write this, write it about our team.

Over recent years, Prof. Xia has received two Fujian Province Scientific Progress Second-class Awards, one Xiamen Municipal Scientific Progress Major Contribution Award; he has been granted two certificates for National Second-class New Drugs and has applied for three national patents. Of the over 60 papers, of which Prof. Xia was lead author or co-author, published in domestic and international journals, over 30 were in prestigious, Science Citation Index-listed journals. He was awarded a special government allowance by the State Council in 1993, and an Outstanding Individual award by the Ministry of Science and Technology on the 15th Anniversary of the 863 Project. In 2004, he was selected for the National Talent Project for the 21st Century, and awarded the Fujian Provincial May 1st Movement Medal and the title of Top Ten Outstanding Young Workers. In 2005, he was honoured as a National Model Worker. He has received a total of ten licences for new drugs he has developed and one approval certificate for the third-stage clinical trial for a new national class-one drug. He has applied for 26 patents, either national or international, of which he has been granted seven to date.
On January 14th, 2010, Prof. Xia was one of 15 national model workers given an opportunity to meet President Hu Jintao. He was dubbed the luckiest person by the press, as he was always to be seen standing next to the President during the reception, the photography session and even during the firework display. He also had the longest discussion with President Hu, for nearly 20 minutes.

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