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Science exhibition on reproduction, development and growth

Human life begins from the fertilised egg which spawns billions of cells. These cells go on to form the tissues and organs of the human body through exquisitely precise and complex processes. Disturbances in these processes can cause many clinical disorders, so research into normal and abnormal reproduction, development and growth is vital to the understanding of many diseases and medical applications.

From today (April 27) to July 30, the Hong Kong Science Museum launches a new exhibition, "Discoveries on Reproduction, Development and Growth: From Gamete to Adult" with the support of the Centre for Reproduction, Development and Growth, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, Hong Kong University. The exhibition was complied to show how the centre uses genome information, genetics, transgenic technology, cell and animal models, and their integration with clinical medicine to discover disease genes and the underlying mechanisms of congenital and degenerative diseases and disorders of reproduction.

In Hong Kong, one in seven couples experience fertility problems and around two out of 100 babies are born with significant birth defects. Assisted reproduction is an effective treatment of infertility. Treatments include ovulation induction, ovarian stimulation, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer. Tests are also available to detect genetic abnormalities before a baby is born. The tests are usually done in the early phase of pregnancy (Prenatal genetic diagnosis). The latest technique is to perform the tests before the embryo is implanted in the mother's uterus (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis).

Mice share similarity with humans in their sets of genes and DNA sequences, developmental, growth and ageing processes, and physiology. They are good models to study the different aspects of development and growth of human, helping us to explore ways to cure human diseases. Now that we have both the complete human and the mouse genome sequences, we can specifically alter genes in mice to provide insights into the relationship between genes, and how genes interact with the environment.

There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in the human genome and chromosomes are made up of DNA. All people are similar, but also unique because of differences in their DNA sequence. Some changes in DNA sequence can cause diseases or increase risks of getting diseases. Genetic differences can now be measured by modern genetic technologies and knowing the genes that cause diseases can improve our health.

Stem cells are special kinds of cells in the body. They have the ability to divide and renew themselves for long periods of time and to give rise to the different specialised cell types. They have been found in the bone marrow, brain, skin and liver where they play a role in the maintenance and repair of tissue. Stem cells are potentially excellent sources for replacing damaged and degenerated tissues in the disease states, for instance, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and leukaemia.

Tissue engineering is the application of engineering and life sciences towards helping to heal or replace tissues or organs affected by chronic or degenerative diseases. The technology makes use of living cells, biomaterials and growth signals to produce artificial organs and tissues substitutes, and develop technology and biological substitutes to deliver and maintain stem cells for tissue regeneration.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a video - "Transgenic Mice" provided by the centre will also be screened. A computer set up on site will provide exhibition-goers with a list of relevant websites.

The Science Museum is located at 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East. It opens from 1pm to 9pm from Monday to Wednesday and on Fridays, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is $25 with half-price concession for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

For enquiries, call 2732 3232 or visit the Science Museum's website at

Ends/Friday, April 27, 2007
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