Newsletter No. 104

B r e a k t h r o u gh in Early Diagnosis a n d T r e a t m e nt of Liver C a n c er Isoelectric focusing of AFP: The development of AFP bands over 310 days in serum samples taken from a liver cancer patient T h e Liver Cancer Study Group of the Faculty of Medicine has succeeded in establishing a new diagnostic blood test for early primary liver cancer, the number two killer among cancers in Hong Kong. Liver cancer is very difficult to cure because there is no accurate method for early diagnosis and the disease is resistant to cancer drugs. The standard test for primary liver cancer is a blood test measuring serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). The higher the level of AFP, the more likely the patient has cancer. The test's accuracy however decreases when AFP is at a low though abnormal level. To make diagnosis more difficult, germ cell tumour, chronic liver disease, and pregnancy may also result in an abnormal level of AFP. Researchers at the Faculty of Med i c i ne have successfully used isoelectric focusing to delineate different types of AFP. By reading the different bands created by subjecting serum AFPs to a strong electric field, doctors can now accurately diagnose the c l i n i cal condition. This method helps to diagnose liver cancer at an early stage, and hence increases the chances of cure. There has also been a great leap forward in the treatment of liver cancer. Selective internal radiation therapy, introduced by staff of the medical faculty in 1990, has now been perfected w i th the establishment of a mathematical partition model to predict the dose of radiation received by tumourous and non- tumourous areas. By using 43 Tc-labelled macroaggregated albumin and gamma scan, the actual treatment of selective internal radiation can be simulated. Then, by analysing w i th the mathematical partition model, the appropriate patients can be selected for treatment. This new method is especially effective for patients suffering from an advanced stage of liver cancer. Symposium on Cancer 'Recent Advances in Gastro-Intestinal Cancer' was the topic of the 2nd Annual Scientific Symposium organized by the Hong Kong Cancer Institute on 1st March at the Prince of Wales Hospital. Cancer experts from Hong Kong and overseas delivered research findings in their areas of specialization, including the latest treatment methods for liver cancer, recent advances in gastric cancer, and multi-modality treatment of oesophageal cancer. The second Cheng Suen Man Shook Foundation Lecture was also delivered in the course of the symposium. Entitled 'Towards the Global Eradication of the Hepatitis B Virus', it was presented by Prof. R. Palmer Beasley from the United States. The Territory' s Fir t Mainlan d Internship Programme Prof. Arthur K.C. Li introducing the internship programme in a press conference T he Un i ve r s i ty has officially launched the CUHK China Career Development Award Programme, wh i ch is Hong Kong's first large- scale internship programme in China. Initiated by the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Academic Links (China), the programme aims to equip students w i th mainland work experience and knowledge of the contemporary socio-political and workplace culture in China. Students will also have a chance to brush up their Putonghua. The first batch of one hundred undergraduates will be posted in various companies, research centres, and government offices in Beijing, Tianjin, and Shenzhen for six weeks this summer. Another hundred students will attend a month-long training programme on contemporary China. As the economy of Hong Kong becomes increasingly integrated with that of China, more and more employers are looking for people with knowledge and experience of business operations on the mainland. The internship will therefore give the participants an edge over other graduates when they look for jobs. HK$2,000,000 has been earmarked for the programme, with a projected cost of HK$8,000 per student. Over 300 students have applied to j o i n the programme, and they will be shortlisted on the basis of their academic performance, Putonghua proficiency, and references. How Talented Pupi ls Should be Taught S ome 50 educators and psychologists attended a workshop on Teaching Gifted Students' held on campus last month. The workshop, the second of the Gifted Education Training Seminar Series, was jointly run by the Programmes for the Gifted and Talented, a one-time support project of the Faculty of Education, and the Hong Kong Institute of Educational Research. The aim of the seminar series is to provide training for educators interested in educating the gifted. Participants were given a chance to learn about and to exchange ideas on educating talented pupils. Dr. Kuo Ching Chih from National Taiwan Normal University led the discussion on topics that included 'How to Motivate and Encourage Gifted Students to Learn Independently', 'Teaching Gifted Students in a Regular Classroom', 'Selecting and Adapting Instructional Materials for Gifted Students', and 'Principles on Curriculum Design for Gifted Students'.