HK professor wins ‘Oscars of Science’ prize

DM Monitoring

HONG KONG: A Hong Kong professor has won the 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for discovering fetal DNA in maternal blood and developing the prenatal testing method of Down syndrome and a variety of genetic diseases. Dennis Lo Yuk-ming from the Faculty of Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong published the discovery in 1997 and then led his team to make non-invasive DNA-based prenatal testing a clinical reality.
Such tests, regarded as a significant breakthrough in the global scientific community, have been widely adopted in over 90 countries and regions and used by more than 7 million pregnant women every year. Lo has also been called as “the father of non-invasive prenatal testing.” “It is most rewarding to see my scientific works being translated into clinical applications, widely used around the world and benefiting lots of families,” Lo said. “This recognition has highlighted that paradigm shift in medical practice that has resulted from plasma DNA testing.”
Lo’s research team succeeded in deciphering a fetal genome through the analysis of traces of fragmented DNA floating in the blood of a pregnant woman, which lays the foundation for developing non-invasive prenatal diagnostic tests for multiple genetic diseases.
In recent years, he and his team also successfully developed a non-invasive test for cancer detection based on similar scientific principles.