The incidence of NPC is particularly high in southern parts of China, especially in Guandong, Guangxi and Hong Kong. Some early symptoms of NPC are non-specific - thus delaying medical consultations. 80% of the patients have advanced-stage disease already at diagnosis, where options of treatment can be limited.
Our group has demonstrated that plasma EBV DNA analysis can be useful for identifying early asymptomatic NPC. We further our studies by exploring the frequency of testing required to maintain high sensitivity for NPC detection; improving the throughput and the cost-effectiveness of the screening method, and exploring the use of DNA methylation analysis to differentiate malignant and non-malignant EBV-related diseases.
The Centre for Novostics (Novostics), with the meaning of novel diagnostics, aims to push forward the frontier of molecular diagnostics. Novostics will focus on the development of cutting edge diagnostics based on cell-free nucleic acids in blood and other bodily fluids, particularly around prenatal diagnosis and cancer diagnostics. These research areas will accelerate the application of liquid biopsy and promote Hong Kong as a leading molecular diagnostic centre in the world.