Oncology scientists, medical practitioners, carers and healthcare administrators gathered at Hong Kong Science Park on 22 July 2017 in order to share insights, know-how and experience in the treatment of lung cancer and the use of precision medicine technology at the conference titled "Precision Medicine and High Quality Biomarker Testing in Asia".

Promoting genomics biomarkers for personalised cancer management

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, claiming more than 1.6 million lives each year - more than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. Not only smokers get lung cancer but about 51% of the world's lung cancer cases occur in Asia, while it accounts for 21% of cancer deaths in the region.

In addition to the current treatment approaches, precision medication uses DNA analysis for early detection of cancer and to identify therapies that are tailored for individual patients has become an emerging added solution in the cure of lung cancer.

The conference, co-organised by Hong Kong Cancer Therapy Society, the Hong Kong Association of Community Oncologists and the Hong Kong Society of Clinical Oncology, drew experts in Asia to discuss and examine the progress of high quality biomarker testing in the region. It also put heavy emphasis on the need for collaboration and why Hong Kong, with its expertise in precision medicine, genome analysis and nano-technology in the field of cancer management, is a natural regional hub for research, development, clinical application and investments in this field.

"Precision medicine faces many challenges in clinical application and this requires collaboration between all stakeholders," said Fanny Law, Chairperson of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, in an opening address at the conference. "The therapeutic prospects of precision medicine are enticing, spurring enterprising researches around the world. Today genetic testing is available for over 2,000 clinical conditions and the number of available diagnostic test is increasing exponentially."

Professor Tony Mok (right) presented certificates of gratitude to the guests of honour,, alongside Mr Leon Wang, Mr Zhi-ming Liu and Mrs Fanny Law (L-R). Photo credit: HKSTP
Professor Tony Mok (right) presented certificates of gratitude to the guests of honour,, alongside Mr Leon Wang, Mr Zhi-ming Liu and Mrs Fanny Law (L-R). Photo credit: HKSTP

Law emphasised advances in precision medicine have transformed healthcare and treatment of diseases. "Predictive diagnosis and personalised treatment tailored to each person's genetic makeup and the genetic profile of the tumour can enhance efficacy and minimise adverse effects," she added.

"Our work on precision medicine effectively supports the decision-making of oncologists based on information about genetic alternations in tumour DNA. Once clinically significant genetic alternations are identified, specific treatments can be aimed at the tumours. These have a much higher chance of achieving desirable clinical outcomes," said Tony Yung, Chief Executive of Sanomics, a start-up in Hong Kong Science Park specialising in blood-based genomics technologies for cancer patients and scientific partner of the conference.

Hong Kong as the centre in research and dissemination of knowledge on cancer

Currently, clinical data from Hong Kong is recognised by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) for registration and approval purposes, making it an ideal testing ground for emerging therapies and devices.

"A year ago, the CFDA accredited two phase 1 clinical trial centres in Hong Kong and accepted clinical trial data from Hong Kong for registration and approval purposes," said Law. "Looking to the future, we must all seize the opportunities arising from the Hong Kong Shenzhen Innovation Technology Park along the border between the two cities and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area to enlarge Hong Kong's capacity for biomedical research and development to meet the growing demand for better health care for the ageing population both in Hong Kong and Mainland China," she continued.

"Our aspiration is for the Greater Bay Area to be an innovation hub with global impact. And within this area, the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park will be a powerhouse of research where great minds from Mainland China, Hong Kong and the rest of the world meet and work together." MIMS

Read more:
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Hong Kong's fight against cancer: Are we winning?
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World Cancer Report 2014.Steward, Bernard and Wild, Christopher (eds). (2014)
World Health Organization. Globocan 2012: Estimated Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide in 2012 (2015)