A new UK-wide shared commitments published by the regulators aim to accelerate genomic research and drive innovation in healthcare.

For the first time, the new shared commitments set out priority actions across the UK and are part of wider plans to improve healthcare through genomics – the study of genes and DNA.

In response to the announcement of shared commitments, Jennifer Harris, ABPI Director of Research Policy said: “Genomics is already transforming lives, helping our scientists create new generations of treatments for many conditions.

“To ensure patients can benefit from these new breakthroughs, a coordinated effort across the UK is needed – which these plans demonstrate. We look forward to further collaboration between the government, the pharmaceutical industry and the research sector to harness the UK’s world-class genomics capability.”

Dr Layla McCay director of policy at the NHS Confederation commented: “We are pleased to see the four UK governments come together on this critical issue to ensure the acceleration of genomic research.

“Improving cancer diagnosis and treatment, improving clinical trials and earlier detection of diseases – which genomic research will drive – will all help the NHS to make quicker progress through the elective backlog.

“The UK Government has set out its intention to make the UK a scientific superpower and this is a positive step towards making that a reality. What we now need is support for implementation in the NHS – including funding – so patients and service-users can enjoy the best possible care.”

Genome UK: shared commitments for UK wide implementation 2022 to 2025 include working together to:

  • Improve cancer diagnosis and treatment by working across the UK to better integrate genomic testing into healthcare and increase access to clinical trials to provide better, personalised treatment
  • Better early detection of disease by establishing a clear, evidence-based approach to newborn genome sequencing, led by Genomics England in partnership with the NHS, alongside the devolved governments, to ensure learning is shared across the UK to benefit newborns and their parents nationwide
  • Build on the successful UK-wide partnership in sequencing of COVID-19 to strengthen collaboration on sequencing of other diseases. As part of this, the UK Health Security Agency will set up a national group on disease genomics with representatives from the 4 nations
  • Encourage innovative and cutting-edge industry partnerships in research and development across the UK to support implementation of Genome UK by bringing together the UK-wide genomics ecosystem to improve collaboration and maximise investment
  • Produce high-quality research by bringing together genomic data sets across the UK and increasing access to clinical trials as well as ensuring research feeds back into the NHS to improve patient care.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our booming UK life sciences sector and the potential it has to transform health and care services.

“By harnessing the power and innovation of genomic research, we can reduce diagnosis times and use cutting-edge treatments for some of the biggest health challenges we face, including cancer.

“By coming together and agreeing these new shared commitments, we will ensure patients across all 4 nations of the UK can benefit from these pioneering advancements and cement our place as a world leader in research and genomics.”

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