Prof. William WU
Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
William Wu is a non-clinical Associate Professor of the Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, CUHK. He obtained his MMedSc (Distinction) and MPhil in Pharmacology from HKU and PhD in Medical Sciences from CUHK. He received postdoctoral training and was later appointed as Research Assistant Professor in the Institute of Digestive Disease, CUHK. He joined his current department as Assistant Professor in 2014 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018. His research focuses on host-microbe interactions and cancer biology. Throughout his career, he has published >350 journal articles and 6 book chapters, with >20,000 citations and an h-index of 66 (Scopus). Major prizes and honors he received include the CUHK Young Researcher Award (2015 and 2021), the Second-class State Natural Science Award (2016), and Fellowships of three medical Royal Colleges (FRCPath, 2014; FRCP Edinburgh, 2018; FRCPS Glasgow, 2019).
The gut microbiota has been implicated in pain modulation through the gut-brain axis but the therapeutic potential of its manipulation for pain management remains largely unexplored. In the current project supported by the Peter Hung Pain Research Institute, the project team identified multiple bacterial species that were enriched or depleted in the gut of patients with post-herpetic neuralgia (a form of neuropathic pain). In this regard, transplantation of gut microbiota from post-herpetic neuralgia patients into mice induced hypersensitivity to mechanical and thermal stimuli, establishing the casual relationship between the gut microbiota and pain development. Oral gavage of two depleted bacterial species into mice also produced analgesic effects in an experimental model of neuropathic pain. One of the bacteria was found to attenuate pain through the modulation of central sensitization. These findings support that manipulation of the gut microbiota with these novel probiotics might be used for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Nevertheless, their therapeutic efficacies need to be further assessed in humans with clinical trials.