Non-invasive Prenatal and Cancer Tests: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Date: 27 April 2015
Speaker: Prof. Dennis Lo


In 1997, Professor Dennis Lo’s group showed that during pregnancy, a fetus would release its DNA into the blood stream of its pregnant mother. Such circulating fetal DNA thus provides a new non-invasive source of fetal genetic material for prenatal testing. Over the last 18 years, they have translated this scientific discovery into clinical tests that have now been used in over a million pregnant women in over 60 countries. More recently, they have shown that the technologies that one could use to analyse circulating fetal DNA can also be used to decipher the genomic signatures of cancer in blood. This development has opened up the exciting possibility of a universal approach for cancer screening. This approach may allow early detection of cancer and timely treatment, ultimately leading to the saving of many lives.

Speaker Bio

Prof. Dennis Lo

Fellow of the Royal Society, United Kingdom
Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences
King Faisal International Prize in Medicine (2014)

Professor Dennis Lo is the Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Medicine, the Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences and Chairman of the Department of Chemical Pathology of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He received his undergraduate education from the University of Cambridge, and his Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Oxford. He discovered the presence of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma in 1997 and is a key driver of non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. He has also pioneered many non-invasive approaches for detecting cancer-associated molecular aberrations in blood. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (UK) and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, and has been awarded the King Faisal International Prize in Medicine in 2014.