UK set to be world leaders in genetic research

1 August 2014

The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced today a new package of partnerships and investment that will take the UK to the forefront of genetic research into cancer and rare diseases. The package, worth more than £300 million, includes a partnership between Genomics England, charged with seeing 100,000 human genomes mapped by 2017, and sequencing technology company, Illumina. Illumina’s services for whole genome sequencing have been secured for around £78 million and, as part of the deal, the company will invest around £162 million into the work over the four years of the initiative.

The announcement is part of the Prime Minister’s vision for the NHS to be the first mainstream health service in the world to offer genomic medicine as part of routine care. David Cameron said: "I am determined to do all I can to support the health and scientific sector to unlock the power of DNA, turning an important scientific breakthrough into something that will help deliver better tests, better drugs and above all better care for patients.”

The PHG Foundation has since its inception advocated a policy of cross sector partnership between the government, public bodies and industry to realise the be n efits of genomics technology for patients and for the UK. PHG Foundation chairman, Ron Zimmern tweeted ‘this is a great day for UK genomics and the NHS’. Blogging about today’s announcement PHG Director, Hilary Burton, challenges policy makers in England to use genomics in new whole life healthcare systems that embrace a whole raft of life science and IT technologies.

Also included in the package:

  • £27 million from the Wellcome Trust for world-class sequencing hub at its Genome Campus near Cambridge. This will house Genomics England’s operations alongside those of The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute 
  • £24 million from the Medical Research Council towards data analysis and security
  •  NHS England has agreed to underwrite an NHS contribution of up to £20 million over the life of the project

Genomics England anticipates that around 40,000 NHS patients could benefit directly from the research and that this work will pave the way for genomics-based medicine to become part of everyday practice throughout the NHS.

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