March 2016

29 March 2016

Opinion of the month

PHG Foundation disagrees with a recent article published in BMJ which stated that communicating genetic risks does not change health behaviour. Pointing out that the article addresses an outdated research question, we call for researchers and policy makers to focus instead on generating robust evidence on when and how genomic and other forms of personal information can be best employed to guide clinical and behavioural interventions.

Complex diseases need complex solutions - including genomics

APPG on Personalised Medicine launches

Over 100 parliamentarians and stakeholders have celebrated the official launch of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Personalised Medicine, which aims to make best use of the increasing availability of technologies to provide more personalised health and care. Speaking to the packed room, UK Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP highlighted the importance of data integration and the vital role of patient voice in order to realise the full potential of personalised medicine.

Science and health policy

PHG Foundation has released a new briefing note Delivering an effective infectious disease genomics service, and in the blog PHG Foundation’s Leila Luheshi calls for organisational commitment and leadership in order for pathogen genomics to be moved out of the ‘too difficult’ pile. The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has been in the news with NHS England announcing that from July NICE will decide which drugs can be accessed by the fund and that it will have a fixed budget of £340m, leading PHG Foundation’s Philippa Brice to unravel the CDF’s benefits and flaws. Philippa also calls into question whether clinical researchers are the answer to NHS uptake of innovations, following the launch of a new report from RAND Europe on the feasibility and practicality of certain recommendations made by the interim report of the Accelerated Access Review. On 22 March, PHG Foundation chaired a debate at this year’s Microbiology Society conference on the challenges in harnessing pathogen genomics data.

Genomic research and medicine

Scottish Genomes Partnership has received a £6 million cash injection this month, and India’s genome hub dream took a step towards reality with a cash boost in the Government’s annual budget.

Therapeutics and diagnostics

There is new evidence to show how a class of cancer drugs could help against superbugs, and there has been progress in cancer therapies that can target the cells of the tumour whilst leaving healthy cells undamaged. This month has seen a great achievement for regenerative medicine with the first, apparently successful use of a new stem cell therapy to regenerate healthy lenses in the eyes of children with cataracts. Meanwhile, research into obesity may have identified a molecular mechanism that influences so-called ‘yo-yo dieting’.
Cancer drugs may help against superbugs

Biomedical research

The gut microbiome has been in the news as being a potential clue to PCOS-related obesity, but the causal relationship between gut bacteria and any disorder has yet to be determined. In other news, pancreatic cancer has been found to be the latest cancer identified as actually several diseases, stimulating hopes for more precise and effective treatments.