The Health and Social Care Secretary has announced over £175 million funding to boost genomics research in the UK.
Through this funding, the government aims to create the most advanced genomic healthcare system in the world.
“Patients with cancer and children born with treatable rare genetic diseases are set to benefit from earlier diagnosis and faster access to treatment, following a £175 million boost to cutting-edge genomics research announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary today (Tuesday),” said DHSC.
The funding will enable research which could deliver world-leading genomic healthcare to patients, which involves the study of people’s DNA.
“£105 million to be funded to kickstart a world-leading research study, led by Genomics England in partnership with the NHS, to explore the effectiveness of using whole genome sequencing to find and treat rare genetic diseases in newborn babies,” said DHSC.
“An initial £26 million to support an innovative cancer programme, led by Genomics England in partnership with the NHS, to evaluate cutting-edge genomic sequencing technology to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosis for cancer patients and use artificial intelligence to analyze a person’s DNA, alongside other information such as routine scans.
“£22 million for a programme, led by Genomics England, to sequence the genomes of up to 25,000 research participants of non-European ancestry, who are currently under-represented in genomic research, to improve our understanding of DNA and its impact on health outcomes. This will help reduce health inequalities and level up patient outcomes across all communities.”
The government has also today announced up to £25 million of UKRI-MRC funding for a UK-wide new initiative on functional genomics, an area of genomic research which uses molecular tools such as gene editing to improve understanding of how genetic variation leads to disease and support smarter diagnostics and the discovery of new treatments.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s (ABPI) director of research policy, Dr Jennifer Harris, said: “This plan is a big step forward in delivering on the government and industry’s shared commitment to fully harness the power of genetic medicine to transform care for patients. It gives a much-needed boost to research and expands the opportunities for patients to take part in clinical trials, building on the recommendations of our report on genomics earlier this year.
It is essential UK patients get better access to genetic testing and genomic medicines through the NHS, and that Genome UK is fully implemented across the UK. The industry will continue to work with government and system partners to deliver these plans, and ultimately, realize the ambitions of the Life Sciences Vision by ensuring people across the country feel the benefits of the UK’s leadership in genomics.”