Genetic tests being researched in Hong Kong will help doctors determine more quickly the seriousness of illness and injuries - and the best treatment - using only a few drops of a patient's blood, a chemical pathology expert predicts. The developing technology is based on recent findings that DNA is released into the blood when tissues are damaged. The more severe the injuries or illness, the higher the DNA level, according to Dennis Lo Yuk-ming, chemical pathology professor and associate dean (research) of the Chinese University, who heads a research team working on the technology. Professor Lo said in current trials the technology had already allowed doctors to 'predict' the chances of recovery and the development of complications by checking the DNA level in the blood in the first hour after patients arrive at, or are sent to, hospitals following strokes, heart attacks and serious trauma such as road-crash injuries and burns. One test, which takes about three hours, has an 80 per cent accuracy rate. But Professor Lo said the technology remained on trial and would not be in general clinical use until it was improved further - probably in less than a decade. He said it would be important to shorten the testing time and to introduce portable equipment so medical staff could carry out the DNA test at the scene, such as in an ambulance. 'Doctors could carry out the blood test in the first hour to determine the best treatment.'