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Exclusive: Hong Kong’s DNA pioneers launch blood tests to find cancer

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ExclusiveCUHK’s Dennis Lo launches blood tests with Prenetics Group to find cancer cells in the liver and lungs, propelling Hong Kong’s role as R&D hub for life sciences

Professor Dennis Lo Yuk-ming of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Prenetics Group will establish a US$200 million venture called InsightaInsighta will provide clinically administered blood tests for as little as US$200 to screen for cancer cells in the liver and the lungs by 2025Hong Kong innovatorsPeggy SitoPublished: 8:00am, 26 Jun, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

The molecular biologist who pioneered non-invasive prenatal testing will launch a blood test kit with Hong Kong’s Prenetics Group to find the genetic material of cancer cells, a game-changing approach to detect one of humankind’s biggest killer diseases and propel the city’s role as a research and development hub for life sciences.Professor Dennis Lo Yuk-ming of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Prenetics will establish a US$200 million venture called Insighta to provide clinically administered blood tests for early-stage cancer cells in the liver, lungs, and other organs. The venture will be based at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP).

Lo, the director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences and the chairman of the Department of Chemical Pathology at the CUHK’s Faculty of Medicine, will own half of the venture. The other half will be owned by Nasdaq-listed Prenetics, which will invest US$80 million in cash, and US$20 million in stock.

Insighta’s “technological framework” is based on the “particular insight that ….. cancer cells release DNA into an individual’s bloodstream, so by taking a blood sample, we can test for those [cancerous] DNA,” Lo said in an interview with South China Morning Post last week. “How accurate the test is, is a matter of execution power. So, the combination of our technological framework with Prenetics’ tests [makes a] very strong” venture, he said.

Existing tests for cancer usually involve biopsies of tumorous cells or the search of “tumour markers” with relatively low accuracy.

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