Guangmei Yan (颜光美), PhD, Vice President of Sun Yat-sen University and Professor of Zhangshan School of Medicine at Sun Yat-Sen University (sysu.edu.cn 2014). Yan published a research paper in the October edition of the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences claiming that he and his team had discovered the so called M1 virus which can kill the cancer cells without affecting the normal cells (Yan 2014).
Guangmei Yan was born in April 1957 in Loudi City, Hunan Province in south-central China. After graduation from high school, Yan returned home and engaged in agriculture in 1974. Two years later when the National Higher Education Entrance Examination resumed, Yan continued his education in Hunan Medical College. In 1989 Yan had his PhD (Medical Science) at Sun Yat-sen University. In 1991, supported by Fogarty International Fellowship Yan had his postdoctoral research training at the National Institute of Mental Health in the US. In 1994, Yan worked at the Central Nervous System Research Centre of Eli Lilly in the US and also served as visiting scientist at Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Indiana University. In 1996, Dr. Yan returned to China and worked as a professor of Pharmacology at Sun Yat-sen University of Medical Science and was later appointed as a vice president of the university.
Pioneer In Healthcare Reform
After returning to his alma mater, Yan served as Vice President of Zhangshan School of Medicine at Sun Yat-Sen University managing the school’s teaching, research and foreign affairs. He managed to overcome the difficulties and innovate the management system there. In1998 he also served as president and party secretary of The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University. During his administration, he prescribed that the two public cars can only be used by old professors and experts (instead of senior management and leaders). Dr. Yan ordered to provide monthly subsidy of 1,000 yuan to Ph.D. supervisors. He said that: “In our hospital, I will not use my power to obtain personal gain, and I will not tolerate anyone who use his power to seek personal gain as well.” April 7, 1999, he reformed the procurement procedure to purchase medical equipment through public bidding following the international practice, the measure saved more than 20% of spending compared to the conventional purchasing. The open and fair procurement was appreciated by a lot of people as “the deal under the sun.”
Discovering A Virus That Kills Cancer
20 Oct 2014, the Xinhua News Agency (state press agency of China) reported that Guangmei Yan and his team had discovered that a virus named “M1 virus” can kill cancer cells without harming the normal body cells. It can possibly be developed into cancer drug (most effective for liver cancer, bladder cancer, colorectal cancer and rectum cancer). The virus was first found by other Chinese scientists in 1964 in a special mosquito in South China’s Hainan Province. According to Guangmei Yan, the theoretical research of their study had completed, the M1 virus can potentially serve as a selective oncolytic virus targeting ZAP-defective human cancers (deficiency of ZAP is typically shared by cancer cells). As per the report, knowing the importance of the development of the cancer therapy, the animal testing on primate (monkey) had been scheduled in the last week of October to speed up pre-clinical phase of the study. In previous experiments, the M1 virus had been proved effective in killing cancer cells on mice.
According to the relevant law and regulations, development of a new drug will need to go through theoretical research, pre-clinical phase and four phases of clinical trials on human. “If the pre-clinical study goes smoothly, we strive to enter the clinical research stage by obtaining the license for clinical trials phase 1 in the next three years. By then, we will test the drug on volunteer cancer patients to shorten the time as much as possible.” Yan said.
sysu.edu.cn 2014. Distinguished Scholars – Yan Guangmei. accessed on 1st Nov 2014 [online] URL: http://www.sysu.edu.cn/2012/en/academics/academics03/270.htm
Yan, G. M. 2014 Identification and characterization of alphavirus M1 as a selective oncolytic virus targeting ZAP-defective human cancers. [online] URL: ww.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1408759111