Press Releases

18 June 2013

CUHK and Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Disease Jointly Launch Territory’s First Newborn Metabolic Screening Program



With a generous donation of HK$1 million pledged by the Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Disease (JHF), The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) launches the territory's first screening program for inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) in Hong Kong. About 1 in 4,000 Hong Kong babies is affected by IEM, which are caused by genetic defects leading to failure to produce certain essential enzymes for metabolism. Affected babies will suffer from major chronic illnesses including mental retardation, and death may result in serious cases. The relatively uncommon diseases without obvious symptoms are likely to be overlooked by clinicians and governments, and are thus also known as 'orphan diseases'. Irreversible damages may arise from delayed diagnosis and treatment.

The departments of Chemical Pathology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, as well as Paediatrics have jointly developed the first newborn metabolic screening program in Hong Kong. The program can test 30 kinds of IEM including amino acid disorders, fatty acid oxidation disorders and organic acid disorders. The test requires only a few drops of blood collected by pricking the baby's heel, and can be done 1 day after oral feeding has started, and within 7 days after birth. Results will be available within a few days.

Mrs. Christina Hellmann, the Founder of JHF said, 'JHF-Newborn Metabolic Screening Program is a milestone in advancing awareness, diagnosis, treatment and research of orphan diseases in Hong Kong. This is an essential step towards eventually establishing Hong Kong's own diagnostic and treatment centre for orphan diseases. The timing of this launch could not be more ideal with Hong Kong's first children's hospital slated to be opened in 2018.'

Professor Tak Yeung LEUNG of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at CUHK said, 'IEM have not been screened in Hong Kong previously. Once the affected babies are identified, treatment such as diet adjustment and/or drug treatment can be started as early as possible to minimize the impact IEM will pose on the babies.'

For enquiries about this service, please call the following hotlines during office hours:

CUHK Newborn Metabolic Screening Program:
2632 4219

 

The Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Disease: 2297 2484

 

(from left) Dr. Liz Yuet Ping YUEN, Consultant, Department of Chemical Pathology, CUHK; Professor Tak Yeung LEUNG, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, CUHK; Mrs. Christina HELLMANN, Chairman, Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Disease and Dr. Joannie HUI, Honorary Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics, CUHK, introduce the territory’s first screening program for inborn errors of metabolism.
(from left) Dr. Liz Yuet Ping YUEN, Consultant, Department of Chemical Pathology, CUHK; Professor Tak Yeung LEUNG, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, CUHK; Mrs. Christina HELLMANN, Chairman, Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Disease and Dr. Joannie HUI, Honorary Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics, CUHK, introduce the territory’s first screening program for inborn errors of metabolism.

Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Diseasepledges to donateHK$1 million to CUHK for the launch of Newborn Metabolism Screening Program. Mrs. Christina Hellman (2ndright) presents a cheque to Dr. Liz Yuet Ping Yuen (1st left), Professor Tak Yeung Leung (2nd left) and Dr. Joannie HUI (1st right).
Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Diseasepledges to donateHK$1 million to CUHK for the launch of Newborn Metabolism Screening Program. Mrs. Christina Hellman (2ndright) presents a cheque to Dr. Liz Yuet Ping Yuen (1st left), Professor Tak Yeung Leung (2nd left) and Dr. Joannie HUI (1st right).

Dr. Liz Yuet Ping YUEN, Consultant, Department of Chemical Pathology, CUHK,showsthe sample filter paper for IEMscreening test.
Dr. Liz Yuet Ping YUEN, Consultant, Department of Chemical Pathology, CUHK,showsthe sample filter paper for IEMscreening test.

The screening test for IEM requires only a few drops of blood collected by pricking the baby’s heel and the results will be available within a few days.
The screening test for IEM requires only a few drops of blood collected by pricking the baby’s heel and the results will be available within a few days.

Tandem mass spectrometry (left) and liquid chromatography are used to identify 30 kinds of IEM.
Tandem mass spectrometry (left) and liquid chromatography are used to identify 30 kinds of IEM.

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