The dos and don’ts of non-invasive prenatal testing

A new report from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics supports the use of a non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) technique recently approved for use as part of the NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme in pregnancy, as well as setting out some concerns surrounding current commercial provision and potential future uses of testing.

Harnessing the health benefits of genomics

The House of Commons Science & Technology Committee (STC), a heavy-weight select committee that does not shy away from the highly complex issues surrounding topics as diverse as robotics and regulation, forensic science and funding, has set itself a new challenge. The current Inquiry on Genomics and Genome Editing has a vast scope – to the extent that in February it was announced t...

Everyone's a winner? Health, wealth, innovation and the NHS

The recently released Accelerated Access Review (AAR) sets out proposals to ensure that NHS staff and patients can access useful innovations sooner.

Rights, responsibilities and rhetoric: health and politics

The Conservative Party Conference last week came hot on the heels of the emergence of a new Prime Minister and government. Brexit dominated much of the discussions, with science and health taking a relative backseat, but some recurring themes pertaining to health were evident.

NHS innovation: personalised medicine and the human factor

The NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016 took place in Manchester in the first week of September. Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director for NHS England said in his welcome to delegates: “All countries are grappling with the escalating cost of healthcare coupled with changing public perceptions and expectations. Part of the solution to improving quality of care and me...

Rise of the super-sized genome projects

The UK’s 100,000 Genomes Project (100KGP), when announced in 2012, put existing efforts in the shade. Hitherto, efforts had begun with projects involving 1000 genomes, or at a push 10,000 genomes – ambitious targets at the time of proposal, especially given that the first human genome sequence took thirteen years and a massive international effort to complete, but soo...

A new direction for life sciences and health in the UK

The last few weeks have seen enormous political upheaval. First, the EU referendum, and majority support for the BREXIT option, widely seen as a major blow both for UK science, which benefits enormously from EU funding arrangements, and for the National Health Service (NHS), relying -as it does so heavily on staff from outside the UK. Next, Theresa May succeeded David Cameron as Prime Minister, ...

Laying the foundations for genomic medicine in France

France has revealed plans to establish a major genome sequencing project for integrated provision of genomic tests and analyses within healthcare systems. The report France Médecine Génomique 2025, produced by the National Alliance for Life Sciences and Health (Aviesan) for the French government, sets out an ambitious vision for rapid delivery of national genome sequencing capacity suffi...

Is a synthetic human genome project a step too far?

Debate continues to rage following the leaked news that scientific experts had convened a ‘secret’ meeting to discuss plans to create an artificial human genome – the ‘next chapter in our understanding of the blueprint of life’. The idea appears to be the brainchild of renowned geneticist George Church and colleagues, building on progress in genetic engineering and sy...

All patients need faster access to useful medical innovations

A new draft publication from the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) sets out a pathway for the adoption of innovative new products in the NHS in England. Produced by Deloitte for the Office of Life Sciences, Accelerating NHS patient access to medical innovations is aimed particularly at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) – which presumably have less scope for attempts to change the NHS...

Innovations for infectious disease: the need for speed

Earlier this month, Public Health England (PHE) released their four-year strategic plan. Entitled Better Outcomes by 2020, it notes that PHE was created in 2013 ‘to protect and improve the public’s health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities’, broken down into four key areas: