UK invests in improving pathology and genomic medicine

3 November 2015

A new pathology initiative will expand research and the capacity for new and improved forms of diagnostics.

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) and partners have collectively pledged £635,000 to the new Cellular Molecular Pathology (CM-Path) programme to support UK cancer pathology research and development.

The programme was developed by pathology experts in the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC) network, and is supported by organisations including the Department of Health (England), the Medical Research Council, Bloodwise, Breast Cancer Now, Cancer Research UK, Health and Care Research Wales and Health and Social Care (N Ireland).

Dr Bridget Wilkins, NCRI Lead for Pathology Engagement, said: “This funding will allow us to advance cancer research and inspire the next generation of pathologists to develop as researchers. It will help us find better ways to diagnose patients and direct them to the right treatment. This is critical to cancer and will also benefit other diseases”.

The funding announcement coincides with National Pathology Week. Improved pathology services incorporating modern technologies are seen as a vital element in delivering more personalised medicine in the UK.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Hamilton has unveiled plans for a £3.3 million Northern Ireland Genomics Medicine Centre (NIGMC) to join the 100,000 Genomes Project’s UK network of Genomic Medicine Centres. The new centre will focus on delivering accurate new genomic diagnoses for patients with rare diseases of unknown origin and cancer.

The Minister said that the move was “one of the first actions in the Northern Ireland Rare Diseases Implementation Plan” that sets out how the UK Rare Diseases Strategy will be put into action in Northern Ireland, including supporting collaboration on rare diseases. He also noted that the UK Medical Research Council was providing £750,000 funding for the NIGMC, with the remaining £2.5million investment coming from the Northern Ireland Executive.

Dr Shane McKee, chair of the NIGMC leadership group, commented: “In Northern Ireland we have a proven track record in rare disease and cancer diagnostics, and we already lead the UK in delivering vital health information to the point of care…The challenge will be to build an enduring legacy where patients, families, health professionals and researchers can create personalised precision care pathways that improve lives, enhance research, and support the wider community”.

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