Research in Hong Kong will benefit if a discovery by University of Hong Kong professor emeritus Tom Boyde proves successful in the fight against cancer. Professor Boyde, whose wife Shirley died tragically in 1989 after receiving almost pure nitrogen from a bottle marked 'oxygen' at Canossa Hospital during routine ankle surgery, has been doing research in Britain since he left Hong Kong in 1993. Professor Boyde, 74, has used most of his retirement trying to discover why antibodies work so well in tackling other diseases. He believes this would work for cancer. In an interview yesterday, he said: 'I am still pursuing research ideas, in particular a new way in fighting cancer.' He said he had found a quick and easy way to chemically combine two or more antibodies that will target the same cancer cells. The strategy has to be tested in laboratory animals for safety reasons before undergoing clinical trials. He hired a laboratory at Queen Elizabeth College in Kensington, London, until 1999 to conduct the fundamental laboratory work to test his theory, and has so far spent at least GBP500,000 (HK$7.66 million) of his own money on his quest. He has a meeting with CK Life Sciences in Hong Kong this week to try to interest it in his idea. 'If you have an idea and you are sure it is good, you have to follow it. That's it,' he said. If it fails? 'It is too bad, at least I tried.' If his idea works, a large proportion of the resulting rights would go to the Shirley Boyde Trust Fund he set up in memory of his wife. Her death led to improved oversight of private hospitals and an overhaul of hospital operating theatre clinical practices. The trust fund has since granted various biochemical and biological research funding grants amounting to a total of about HK$1 million. Since 2001, its chief activity has been to support the Shirley Boyde Memorial lecture by leading scientists involved in new and important research. The speaker at the third lecture today will be Sir David Lane, discoverer of the critical tumour suppressor gene named p53. Professor Boyde, who flew in from London late on Saturday, will host the lecture series. In 1993, Professor Boyde retired from the university after 17 years and went back to the UK, saying he could not bear to live here after his wife's death. He said her death had been hard on their two daughters, Caroline and Emma. He had to be father and mother to the girls and to sons Nick and Simon.