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Jul 03, 2023

Press Release: HKUMed in collaboration with the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, establishes the positive clinical impact of the Multidisciplinary Molecular Tumour Board among patients with advanced solid cancer in the era of Precision Cancer Medicine

Press Release (July 3, 2023):

HKUMed in collaboration with the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, establishes the positive clinical impact of the Multidisciplinary Molecular Tumour Board among patients with advanced solid cancer in the era of Precision Cancer Medicine



A research team from HKUMed establishes the positive clinical impact of the Multidisciplinary Molecular Tumour Board among patients with advanced solid cancer in the era of Precision Cancer Medicine. The research team members include: (from left) Dr Aya El Helali, Elaine Ko Yee-ling, Dr David Shih Jen Hao and Dr Jason Wong Wing-hon.


A research team from the LKS Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) discovered that somatic deletion of a tumour suppressor gene AKTIP promotes luminal breast cancer development and resistance to endocrine therapy. The findings are now published in Cell Reports [link to publication].



The integration of next-generation sequencing (NGS) and comprehensive gene profiling (CGP) into clinical practice is transforming the field of oncology and enabling precision medicine approaches for cancer patients. The MTB in Hong Kong is a significant step towards advancing precision oncology in the region, providing genome-informed therapy for patients with advanced-stage and treatment-refractory solid cancer. Combining the expertise of multiple disciplines, the MTB consists of world-class clinicians and scientists to deliver individualised and evidence-based recommendations for patients based on their unique genomic profiles. In addition, this approach has improved patient outcomes, as demonstrated by the high rate of patients with actionable targets and favourable objective response rates and disease control rates following MTB-guided therapy.

Through its efforts, the MTB has shown that NGS CGP is a critical tool for precision cancer medicine and that integrating an MTB is essential for the safe and effective implementation of such guided therapy into clinical practice. Overall, the MTB has set a new standard for precision oncology in the region, demonstrating the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and personalised treatment strategies in improving patient outcomes. Ultimately, it has paved the way for advances in cancer genomics by narrowing the gap between science and clinical practice.

Research methods and findings

Precision cancer medicine is widely embraced as it offers personalised treatment plans based on the patient's genetic profile. The MTB, co-founded by HKUMed and HKSH, was established in August 2018 and is held monthly, available to all healthcare and scientific professionals across Hong Kong. The MTB was designed to optimise the interpretation of tumour genomic profiling in Hong Kong.

The MTB team is a powerhouse of experts, including renowned oncologists, cancer specialists, molecular pathologists, cancer biologists, pharmacists, clinical geneticists, bioinformaticians, biostatisticians, and data scientists. Their wealth of knowledge and experience allows them to recommend personalised treatment strategies to patients with advanced solid cancer by conducting a thorough analysis of genomic variants driving the tumour, assessing the potential for matched therapies, and distinguishing between missense mutations of unknown significance and putative drivers in a 4-step process:

Step 1: Patient Registration: Upon consent, patients' NGS reports will be added to the MTB registry.

Step 2: Case Discussion: the MTB thoroughly examines the patients' clinical history and gene expression profile.

Step 3: Personalised Sequence-specific Recommendation: the MTB will provide personalised recommendations based on specific genomic reports to the treating physician.

Step 4: MTB longitudinal follow-up, the MTB will continuously monitor the patient's progress and treatment effectiveness. This follow-up system ensures the highest quality of care and optimised long-term health outcomes.


Research significance

In Hong Kong and beyond, the MTB is recognised as a highly effective approach to providing exceptional clinical services to cancer patients. With personalised recommendations based on individual genomic profiles, the MTB strives to bridge the gap between scientific advancements and clinical application, resulting in significantly improved patient outcomes. The MTB is distinguished by its unwavering commitment to academic excellence, pioneering research, patient engagement, and education. It is a valuable resource for cancer patients and frontline physicians alike.

Dr Aya El Helali, Clinical Assistant Professor of the Department of Clinical Oncology, School of Clinical Medicine, HKUMed, highlighted, ‘It is important to know that precision cancer medicine requires a multidisciplinary approach for effective care. The vital role of the MTB is in connecting genomic profiling with targeted therapy. This is especially important as personalised oncology becomes more common. This study has shown that treatment-refractory cancer patients who receive MTB-guided recommendations have better treatment response rates. In this study conducted on a Chinese patient population, over 500 alterations were identified, with 64% of patients benefiting from the MTB-guided approach. This is a significant finding, as it is the first report of its kind in the region. These results have important implications for clinical practice and emphasise the importance of MTBs in precision cancer medicine.’


About the research team

This multicentre collaborative study was led by Dr Aya El Helali, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Oncology, School of Clinical Medicine, HKUMed, and Dr Edmond Ma Shiu-kwan, Director of the Division of Clinical Pathology & Molecular Pathology, Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital. Co-authors include Dr Victor Lee Ho-fun, Professor Lewis Ng Wai-tong and former Clinical Assistant Professor Dr Lam Tai-chung, Department of Clinical Oncology, School of Clinical Medicine, HKUMed; and Professor Anne Lee Wing-mui, the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital; Dr David Shih Jen Hao, Dr Jason Wong Wing-hon and Dr Lydia Cheung Wai-ting, School of Biomedical Sciences, HKUMed. Dr Anthony Liu Pak-yin and Professor Godfrey Chan Chi-fung, Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, HKUMed; Dr Ann Chan Sum-yin, Dr Johnny Lau Kin-sang and Chief of Service Dr Yuen Kwok-keung, Department of Clinical Oncology, Queen Mary Hospital; Dr Herbert Loong Ho-fung, Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Dr Stephen Lam Tak-sum, Director of Clinical Genetics Service at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital.


About the Department of Clinical Oncology

The Department of Clinical Oncology is an academic department specialising in a full spectrum of non-surgical cancer services, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and palliative care. The Department has two research laboratories, the Laboratory of Cancer Molecular Genomics and the Laboratory of Cancer Genetics. It provides state-of-the-art cancer management at two hospitals (Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital) in close collaboration with multiple disciplines.


Media enquiries

Please contact LKS Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong by email (