Lifebit Provides BioMedical ICT Solution for Hong Kong’s Large-Scale Genome Sequencing Project

by Tyler Chen
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As announced last year, Hong Kong will initiate the pilot phase of a large-scale genome sequencing project in mid-2021. On May 25th, a biomedical big data firm, Lifebit, successfully scored a four year contract with the Hong Kong Genome Institute (HKGI) to support the plan.


PICT Infrastructure and Cloud Technology

Lifebit will provide a highly scalable cloud and HPC infrastructure to transform raw sequencing data into clinical diagnosis and research insights in as little as three hours. Also, biomedical researchers worldwide can gain secure access to the data, facilitating the understanding of undiagnosed and hereditary diseases.

“Precision medicine requires vast amounts of data to be analyzed, and we believe federated analysis will play a key role in powering the Project for HKGI.” Thorben Seeger, Lifebit VP Commercial, said.


$154 Million Funding

The goal of the Hong Kong Genome Project is to sequence 50,000 whole genomes with 20,000 cases in six years to understand the mechanism of serious diseases and the genetic composition of Hong Kong citizens, which could potentially lead to more personalized, precise, and innovative therapeutics development.

With objectives and strategy revealed in 2020, the Hong Kong Genome Project has obtained fundings of $154 million (1.2 billion Hong Kong Dollars) from the government. It will enter three stages in the following years. First, a pilot phase that sequenced 2,000 cases with undiagnosed diseases or hereditary cancer will be conducted. This phase will gain a total of 5,000 whole genomes.

Then, 18,000 cases that included diseases in the pilot phase and those that can benefit from the whole genome sequencing will be processed in two phases. Overall, the plan will gain insights into 40,000 to 50,000 whole genomes.

Other than the project, Hong Kong will also work on other seven aspects:

  1. Provide more genome and hereditary clinical services
  2. Foster local talents
  3. Educate the public on the idea of genetic testing
  4. Increase genetic-testing focused laboratories and improve the transferal system
  5. Build biobanks
  6. Implement policies and restrictions to avoid genetic discrimination at work or insurance
  7. Promote consultation with doctors before genetic testing

Currently, China, Singapore, Iceland, Israel, Finland, and Irland have implemented their genome sequencing project as well.

Related Article: Singapore Targets Widespread Implementation of Precision Medicine, Launches Phase II of its 10-Year Plan


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