17 Jan 2013

Dinner meeting: Speaker: Professor Dennis Lo

As President Michael was sick and could not attend the dinner meeting today, VP Betty was the Acting President.  The birthday boys and girl today were PP George, Rtn Ernie, Rtn Joe and Rtnne Daisy, we sang a birthday song to them and VP Betty presented a bottle of red wine to them as birthday gift.

Before the speaker began his talk, IPP Flora and IPP Ka Hing joined us to talk about “The One”.  “The One” is an International Humanitarian Award that looks to find that special hero, which the person who wakes up every morning and puts others before himself and dedicates his or her life to helping others in need.  The One 2012 was Ms. Valerie Browning, she used her cash prize to established a waiting center for mothers at risk of birthing problems and established a training centre for birth attendants. Now, we need to find “The One 2013”.  The nomination period is Oct 1st, 2012- Jan 31st, 2013.

Our featured speaker today was Dr. Dennis Lo, who spoke about “Non-invasive prenatal diagnosis: from dream to reality “.  Dennis Lo is the Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Medicine and Professor of Chemical Pathology of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
Dennis Lo returned to Hong Kong in 1997, the same year, he discovered the presence of fetal DNA in maternal plasma. His group was the first to report the presence of cell-free fetal RNA and fetal epigenetic markers in maternal plasma and pioneered the use of such markers for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis. Dennis Lo and his colleagues were also the first to show that cell-free fetal nucleic acids in maternal plasma could be used for the noninvasive prenatal diagnosis of fetal trisomy 21 and had devised multiple solutions for this hitherto difficult diagnostic problem, including methods based on plasma RNA-SNP allelic ratios, plasma epigenetic markers, digital PCR and massively parallel DNA sequencing. With the use of massively parallel sequencing and the development of novel bioinformatics strategies, Dennis Lo’s group succeeded at deciphering a genome-wide genetic map of the fetus through the analysis of the small amounts of fragmented DNA floating in the blood of pregnant women. This scientific achievement lays the foundation for developing non-invasive prenatal diagnostic tests for multiple genetic diseases in a non-invasive way. 
In conclusion, Fetal DNA is present in maternal blood. Noninvasive prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome is already a clinical reality.  Fetal genome scanning is possible, making prenatal diagnosis safer and less stressful.

We collected HK$1,030 for raffle and fines, Dr. Lo help to draw the raffle numbers.  Rtnne Daisy and Rtn Joe won handmade bags.