Genome sequencing project set

May 14, 2020

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)


The Government today announced the Strategic Development of Genomic Medicine in Hong Kong with an emphasis on a project to set up a genome sequencing database to help detect undiagnosed cancers.


Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan laid out the project’s main objective at a press briefing this afternoon and emphasised that the Government is pleased to accept the recommendations of a report prepared by the Steering Committee on Genomic Medicine.


Among the recommendations put forth by the steering committee, the Hong Kong Genome Project has been accorded the top priority.


It is a large-scale genome sequencing project, with the pilot phase focusing on patients and their family members with undiagnosed disorders and hereditary cancers. Up to 50,000 genomes would be sequenced.


"The objective of this genome project, not only is it going to develop genomic medicine as a whole, but we are going to use this as a catalyst. Hopefully this project can, at the same time, come up with a database and secondly, build capacity within Hong Kong so that we have more people who are able to work on this.


“Ultimately, this is not only for the benefit of science and data development, but also I think in the long run or even in the process, this would benefit our patients - the diagnosis of patients and treatment of patients.


“There is a lot already happening now in hospitals in terms of using genomic medicine and sequencing in looking at diagnoses and also treatments. But these are on a smaller scale."


Prof Chan added that $1.2 billion has been set aside to execute the Hong Kong Genome Project.


“The Hong Kong Government and the Food & Health Bureau feel that this is important in terms of the development of genomic medicine for future development, not only for research but also for diagnosis and treatment, ultimately benefitting our patients.”


The bureau will co-ordinate the implementation of the report’s recommendations with stakeholders including the Department of Health, the Hospital Authority, universities, medical and relevant professional bodies and private sectors.


Click here for the report’s details.

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