Areas of Excellence

Centre for Research into Circulating Fetal Nucleic Acids

Centre for Research into Circulating Fetal Nucleic Acids

Total Funding Approved

  • HK$31.28M
    (1st Phase: HK$11.28M (2008-2011) + 2nd Phase: HK$20M (2012-2015))

Indicative Project Time-Frame

  • 2008-2015

Coordinating Institution

  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Prof. Dennis Y.M. Lo)

Prenatal diagnosis is an indispensable component of health care. Definitive diagnostic methods in current use, e.g., amniocentesis, are invasive and pose a risk to the unborn child. In 1997, Prof. Dennis Lo and his team discovered, for the first time in the world, the presence of cell-free foetal DNA in the plasma of pregnant women, offering new possibilities for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. The team has further pioneered many diagnostic applications, a number of which are now used clinically by many centres globally. A Centre consisting of a multidisciplinary conglomerate of local and international researchers is formed under this Areas of Excellence project, to address a number of high-profile unsolved questions in the field of circulating foetal nucleic acids, including non-invasive molecular methods for the diagnosis of foetal Down syndrome. Its ultimate goal is to make safe prenatal diagnosis available to citizens around the world and to promote the development of expertise in molecular diagnostics in this region.