New UK DNA Mapping Project Targets Cancer, Rare Diseases And Infectious Diseases
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that the UK’s new DNA mapping project will focus its genetic analysis efforts on lung and children's cancer, rare diseases and infectious diseases.
The initiative aims to increase knowledge about various conditions and improve diagnosis, while also enabling more personalised care. It is operated by a not-for-profit company, Genomics England, and entirely owned by the UK Health Department.
The project will be based on the personal DNA code of up to 100,000 patients or infections in patients which Prime Minister David Cameron announced in December last year will be sequenced over the coming five years.
“The UK aims to become the first country to introduce this technology in its mainstream health system – leading the global race for better tests, better drugs and above all better, more personalised care to save lives,” said Hunt. He noted that Genomics England will be able to provide the investment and leadership that is needed to dramatically increase the use of this technology, whilst at the same time driving down the costs.
"Crucially, it means unearthing a variety of new information that scientists can use to learn more about the biology of cancer in order to develop new ways to prevent, diagnose and effectively treat the disease," observed Cancer Research UK policy and information executive director Sarah Woolnough.
Chaired by Sir John Chisholm, former chairman of the Medical Research Council, Genomics England will manage contracts for specialist UK companies, universities and hospitals to supply services on sequencing, data linkage and analysis: “This project represents a great opportunity to translate our world class genomic science into world leadership in genomic medicine. Genomics England will create a dataset of anonymized whole genome sequences matched with clinical data at a scale unique in the world.”
Managing the storage of patients' personal data in line with existing NHS rules, the company will establish the standards for obtaining consent from patients for participation.
Up to £100 million of funding pledged by the government will assist in training a new generation of British genetic scientists to develop life-saving new drugs, treatments and scientific breakthroughs and fund the initial DNA sequencing for cancer and rare and inherited diseases.
“The UK is very well placed to be at the forefront of genomics research and translation. As set out in the life sciences strategy, we have world-class medical scientists, a strong pharmaceutical industry and a unique resource of patient data thanks to the NHS,” commented Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “By putting firm foundations in place through Genomics England, this technology will let us make ground-breaking discoveries about how diseases work, who could be susceptible to them, how we can treat them, and what treatments might work.”
Since you're here...
... and value our content, you should sign-up to our newsletter. Sign up here