Patients across the UK are all set to benefit from better healthcare, treatments and faster diagnosis as the government plans to deliver ‘world-leading genomic healthcare.’
Genomics is the study of genetic information and can help diagnose diseases earlier and more accurately. Building on the success of the 100,000 Genomes Project, the government stresses of being committed to sequence one million whole genomes – 500,000 genomes in the NHS and 500,000 in UK Biobank. This will transform healthcare in the UK and create jobs. In 2018/19 genomics contributed £1.9 billion to our economy.
Working with key partners across the genomics community, the bold new Genome UK Implementation Plan 2021-22 published today sets out 27 commitments to deliver over the next year including five high priority actions:
- Faster diagnosis and treatment of cancer using genomics through partnership working between Genomics England and NHS England and Improvement to identify technologies that could be used to enable faster and more comprehensive genomic testing for cancer.
- Whole genome sequencing for patients with rare diseases and cancer as part of the NHS Genomic Medicine Service. This builds on the success of the 100,000 Genomes Project, making the NHS the only healthcare system worldwide to routinely offer this life-changing test for earlier diagnosis.
- Engage closely with different communities to ensure diverse datasets, through bespoke screening programmes. This will ensure everyone across the UK can benefit from genomic healthcare and our genomic databases are representative of our diverse population.
- The UK’s largest research programme will begin recruiting up to five million people representative of the UK population, to collect and link multiple sources of health information, helping researchers to discover new ways to detect and prevent the development of diseases. This was originally established as the Accelerating Detection of Disease challenge through £79 million of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.
- Develop global standards and policies for sharing genomic and related health data. The National Institute for Health Research, Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust will, over the next five years, provide a total of £4.5 million of funding to the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health ensuring standards are easily accessible and usable by global genomic programs and data sharing initiatives, placing the UK at the forefront of secure sharing of international genomic and health-related data.
Speaking in the House of Commons, health secretary, Matt Hancock said: “We will transform the UK into a life sciences superpower… we’ve published our Genome UK Implementation Plan for how we can build on this even further including our commitment to sequence one million whole genomes.”
Believing genomics can save lives, he sad he is determined that the UK stays at the forefront of the new important technology. Adding further he said this way the fight against Covid19 can be continued along with tackling other lifestyle disorders as well that are stopping the people live healthier lives like cancer, dementia etc.
Hence, the government is planning to increase investment in research and development in order to bring more of the supply chain onshore “sparing no effort to attract the brightest innovators and the best manufacturers and the benefits will be felt in Newquay, Newport, Newry and Newton Mearns,” said Hancock.
Minister for innovation, Lord Bethell, said that the UK has a proud history in developing genetic and genomic technologies which improves the lives of patients across the country and globally.
“This implementation plan demonstrates the great strides we have already made since the launch of Genome UK and outlines the actions we are taking to progress key commitments over the next year.”
This first phase implementation plan follows on from Genome UK: The Future of Healthcare published in 2020 which set out a vision to create the most advanced genomic healthcare system in the world, to deliver better healthcare at lower cost.
The plan contains ambitious England-specific and UK-wide commitments, reflecting the devolved nature of healthcare while highlighting our strengths when we work together – for example, the world-leading COVID-19 genome sequencing consortium, COG-UK.
Professor Dame Sue Hill, NHS England chief scientific officer, said: “The NHS is already a global leader in genomics and has introduced a range of new cutting edge tests for people with rare diseases and cancer over the last year, despite the pandemic. Genomics can truly transform the way patient care is delivered, helping to predict and prevent disease, personalise treatments and ultimately save lives.”