Director's blog

Reviewing the five year plan for the NHS set out by chief executive Simon Stevens, Director Dr Hilary Burton focuses on two of his key issues, using technologies and transforming healthcare systems, and examines the challenges of delivering affordable personalised medicine.

Opinion of the month

Legal and regulatory analyst Tom Finnegan considers the benefits and problems of sharing patient data, and argues that determining what constitutes appropriate access to personal data is an issue that society urgently needs to address.
Ethical issues in clinical genomic data sharing

New publications

Two new briefing notes are available for free download this month. The first examines the need for genomic data sharing within the NHS and recommends actions to achieve this, and the second sets out current barriers to the introduction of pathogen genomics in the NHS and makes an urgent call for strategic planning and coordination of service development and delivery.
Sharing clinical genomic data for better diagnostics
Leading the way: driving the delivery of pathogen genomics into practice

Genomic medicine

News of the companies to pass first round selection as bioinformatics providers and the bidders to become designated Genomic Medicine Centres has emerged this month. Meanwhile, NHS England’s Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh (who also chairs the 100,000 Genomes Project’s Genomics Clinical Advisory Group) has said ensuring that the NHS remains free at the point of care will remain vital.
Genomes beauty pageant continues
Plans for new UK NHS Genomic Medicine Centres advance
Free NHS vital in the era of genetic medicine

Genomic big data

Alongside news of new US funding and the latest meeting of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, Dr Sobia Raza sets out practical steps needed to ensure that appropriate data sharing between laboratories takes place.
Genomic data: to share is to care
Data sharing efforts to promote genomic medicine
NIH money injection to tackle big data

Funding and policy issues

The UK has been bending over backwards to create a positive environment for biomedical science this month, with hundreds of millions of pounds in funding announced including for personalised cancer medicine, and a new ‘one stop shop’ for regulatory advice on regenerative medicine launched. Dr Philippa Brice notes the economic advantages of a new commercial-NHS partnership for cord blood banking alongside ethical concerns.
New UK investment for disease research technologies
Oxford cash boost for personalised cancer medicine
Moves to ease regulatory burden for regenerative medicine
Public-private partnerships for UK cord blood banking

Genetic testing and therapies

Good news for gene therapy with a positive update on trials for severe immunodeficiency and progress with the highly promising CRISPR technique for precise engineering of the genetic code. The advantages of genetic testing and services to reduce the deaths of infants and individuals with inherited cancer predisposition are outlined along with an update on non-invasive prenatal testing intellectual property news.
Reducing infant mortality through enhanced genetic services
Increased safety of gene therapy for X-linked SCID
Developments in global non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) market
Advances in CRISPR genome-editing
Genetic testing of young colorectal cancer patients could save lives

Infectious diseases

Two key themes feature in infectious disease news, the first being the problem of antimicrobial resistance and efforts to underpin improved surveillance and the development of solutions. As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa expands, we report on global efforts to develop the use of genomics in surveillance of emerging human health threats, including surveillance in animals.
Genome sequencing sheds light on deadly antibiotic resistant hospital infections
Antimicrobial resistance: response of Research Councils UK
Infectious disease threats - global issues requiring global solutions
Genomic pathogen surveillance in animals: An early warning system for future pandemics?
Realising the benefits of pathogen genomics for personal and population health