Navigation Links
Illy Trieste Science Prize: Yuk Ming Dennis Lo awarded for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis
Date:9/18/2012

Tianjin, China - The winner of the eighth edition of the Ernesto Illy Trieste Science Prize was announced today (Tuesday, 18 September 2012). The Prize rewards scientists living and working in developing countries whose research has had a significant impact on sustainable development. In previous years, the Ernesto Illy Trieste Science Prize has been awarded for research on climate change, renewable energy, and materials science. This year's Prize is awarded in the area of human health.

The winner received his award in front of an audience of more than 500 scientists, ministers of science and presidents of science academies from around the globe. The audience was convened by TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world, for the TWAS 12th General Conference and 23rd General Meeting held this week in Tianjin, China, and hosted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Yuk Ming Dennis Lo, director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences and professor of medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), received the prestigious award for developing, with his team of researchers at CUHK, a ground-breaking technology for scanning the entire genome of a foetus from a blood sample obtained from its pregnant mother.

In 1997, Lo was able to demonstrate the presence of high concentrations of cell-free foetal DNA in the plasma of pregnant women, which could then be sampled and tested. This discovery opened up new possibilities for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis, and has effectively reduced our reliance on previous invasive and potentially risky, methods.

Lo commented: "The common procedures for prenatal diagnosis based on amniocentesis (the removal of amniotic fluid from the womb) and chorionic villus sampling (taking a piece of tissue from the placenta) are not entirely risk-free due to their invasiveness. To have a non-invasive test that can give certain answers and that can be followed over time in the womb, is a concrete help in obstetrics and brings tangible benefits to both the mother and the fetus, increasing the level of safety during pregnancy and reducing both the stress due to invasive tests. In the long-term, this technology will bring positive healthcare benefits to both developed and developing countries, reducing the suffering and health-care burden caused by genetic diseases."

The discovery trail

Lo graduated from Cambridge University and obtained his DPhil from the University of Oxford in 1994, but his heart remained in Hong Kong, the city where he was born, and he decided to return home in 1997. His move back to Asia was an opportunity to start a new research programme on a hitherto 'high risk' research area, namely, the investigation of extracellular DNA in plasma. Lo and colleagues had already noted the presence of tumour-derived DNA in the plasma and serum of cancer patients. This observation led Lo to wonder if he could also observe foetal DNA in the blood of pregnant women. At the same time, molecular biology techniques that are now widely used were just catching on. The 'real-time quantitative PCR' technique used by Lo allows scientists to amplify and quantify the DNA present in trace amounts in a sample (such as foetal DNA circulating in maternal plasma that, on average, accounts for 10 percent of the total DNA maternal plasma). Applying this technique to the analysis of the plasma of pregnant women, Lo was not only able to determine the sex of the foetus, but also the presence of diseases such as beta-thalassaemia that are inherited from the father.

In a further refinement of the analysis, Lo and his team showed that it was possible to follow the natural fluctuating levels of foetal DNA in maternal blood during pregnancy, and that traces of this DNA disappear within a few hours after birth. An important application of this study concerns some of the most common ailments associated with pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia (characterized by oedema, proteinuria and hypertension) and pre-term delivery (which occurs between the 20th and the 37th completed week of gestation). In both cases, as Lo discovered, the detection of abnormal amounts of foetal DNA in maternal blood can then be used as a marker to monitor the progress of a pregnancy or to predict possible cases of at-risk pregnancies. In 2008, Lo applied the technique already used successfully for determining the sex of an unborn child and enhanced it to be able to identify foetuses with Down's syndrome. Down's syndrome (or trisomy 21) is characterized by the presence of three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two, and causes a general slowing of psychomotor and intellectual development. Through the sequencing of millions of DNA molecules amplified from maternal plasma, Lo confirmed that it was possible to work out the proportions of each chromosome and hence detect Down's syndrome. The technique, now standardized, is used widely to detect Down's syndrome and other chromosomal aneuploidies (abnormalities in chromosome number structure) in China, Europe and the United States. The results of this research were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and now represent an important point of the prenatal diagnosis.

And Lo's development of prenatal diagnoses does not stop there. Two years ago, in 2010, it was the turn of the 'foetal genomic map', full of potential mutations, obtained by sequencing foetal DNA present in maternal plasma and comparing it with the maternal and paternal genomes.

With 28 patents filed based on his work, Lo is ensuring that his research efforts are being applied where it matters and have contributed to a paradigm shift in obstetrics care. With 300 articles published in international journals Lo has been made an honorary member of the Royal Society (2011) for his scientific achievements.

For all these reasons, Lo was selected as the 2012 recipient of the Ernesto Illy Trieste Science Prize in human health.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cristina Serra
cserra@twas.org
39-040-224-0429
TWAS
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Washingtons Life Sciences Discovery Fund awards commercialization grants
2. Hutchinson Center president elected to American Academy of Art and Sciences
3. Association for Psychological Science, SAGE launch Clinical Psychological Science
4. Ivy Neurological Sciences Internship program funded at TGen
5. UT MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho elected to National Academy of Sciences
6. Understanding and promoting mental health - Insights from psychological science
7. The Science Media Centre, London, wins the 2012 ECNP Media Award
8. Ultra-short laser pulses for science and industry
9. Optogenetics project takes top NIDA Addiction Science Award
10. Psychological Science explains uproar over prostate-cancer screenings
11. The Science of Tasty Tomatoes Lies in the Chemicals
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Illy Trieste Science Prize: Yuk Ming Dennis Lo awarded for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... Global Healthcare Management’s 4th Annual Kids Fun Run brought ... This free event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s CEO, Jon Letko, is aimed at ... towards children of all ages; it is a non-competitive, non-timed event, which is all ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Talented host, ... lowdown on sciatica in a new episode of "Success Files," which is an ... and innovation and investigates each subject in-depth with passion and integrity. , Sciatica ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... “The Journey: From the Mountains to ... to save lost souls in the Philippines. “The Journey: From the Mountains to the ... teacher of the Bible. She has taught all ages and currently teaches a class ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... for healthcare compliance program management, will showcase a range of technology and learning ... Assisted Living (NCAL) Convention and Expo to be held October 14–18, 2017 at ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Planet Fitness, one of the largest and ... plans to open a flagship location in Covington, LA at 401 N. U.S. Highway ... store next to Office Depot in the Holiday Square shopping center. Its location allows ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/4/2017)... , Oct. 4, 2017 OBP ... self-contained, illuminating medical devices, today announced regulatory approval ... Surveillance Agency (or Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária ... single-use, cordless surgical retractor with integrated LED light ... access, illumination and exposure of a tissue pocket ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... 2, 2017 Halo Labs announces the European launch of ... the HORIZON at MIBio 2017 in Cambridge, U.K ... particulate matter in biopharmaceutical samples with unprecedented speed and sensitivity while ... technique Backgrounded Membrane Imaging. ... HORIZON subvisible particle analysis system ...
(Date:9/27/2017)... Sept. 27, 2017  Commended for their devotion to personalized ... Ranked as number one in the South Florida Business Journal,s ... Inc. 5000 yearly list, the national specialty pharmacy has found ... Bardisa will soon be honored by SFBJ as the ... Set to receive his award in October, Bardisa ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: