Cancer is a leading cause of death in Hong Kong and the number of cancer patients treated is on a rising trend, according to statistics released by the Government.
As a means of strengthening and enhancing the city’s research and treatment capacity in this area, the Club’s Charities Trust has granted the Hospital Authority (HA) funding of some HK$54 million to redevelop the cancer research laboratory at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). The facility has been renamed the Jockey Club Cancer Research Laboratory.
Cancer research, which aims to identify causes of the disease and develop strategies for its prevention, diagnosis and treatment, remains the most important initiative to fight the disease and improve patient care.
Set up in the 1960s, the Laboratory is located on the 13th floor of the Jockey Club Institute of Radiotherapy and Oncology at QEH. Over the past half century, its researchers have accomplished a number of key discoveries, such as finding the strong association between eating Chinese salted fish and the development of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC), as well as making use of Epstein-Barr virus detection for the diagnostics and prognostic prediction on NPC patients.
Of particular note, the Laboratory has been studying some biomarkers associated with lung cancer and NPC. This may facilitate the development of diagnostics and prognostic prediction for lung cancer and NPC patients, as well as anti-cancer therapeutic strategies which may be more effective than traditional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and have less adverse effect on the normal cells.
Research staff at the Jockey Club Cancer Research Laboratory will now work closely with QEH oncologists in studying the development of common cancers in Hong Kong such as NPC, lung cancer and breast cancer, in addition to developing biomarkers of cancers that are prevalent among Asian and Chinese patients, but are rare in western countries and have received less attention in overseas research studies. This will help bridge the gap of cancer research in the medical world and benefit a large number of cancer patients not only in Hong Kong, but also across Asia.
Equipped with specialised cancer research equipment and advanced technologies, the Laboratory will also become a centralised biobank for the collection and storage of tumour specimens collected from cancer patients, and a research and testing centre for pre-clinical drug trials. It will facilitate collaboration on cancer research among different parties both inside and outside the HA, so as to improve the effectiveness of cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The Club has long been a staunch supporter of Hong Kong’s medical and health development, having supported the construction of medical and health facilities citywide since the 1950s. It has also been a close partner of the HA over the years. Its support for HA facilities includes funding the establishment of the Jockey Club Institute of Radiotherapy and Oncology, The Jockey Club Institute of Radiology and Imaging, and the Jockey Club Endovascular & Minimal Access Operation Centre at QEH. In addition, the Club is supporting the University of Hong Kong in setting up the Centre for Clinical Innovation and Discovery and the Institute of Cancer Care.