New NHS centres join 100,000 Genomes Project

Two new NHS Genomic Medicine Centres have today been unveiled as being part of the unique, innovative and world-leading 100,000 Genomes Project.

Yorkshire and the Humber and West of England are the latest NHS Genomic Medicine Centres to be added to the 11 centres already up and running. They are expected to start their work in February next year.

The 100,000 Genomes Project was announced by the Prime Minister in 2012 in a bid to transform diagnosis and treatment for patients with cancer and rare diseases in the fast-emerging field of genomic medicine. Eleven sites were announced in December 2014, and the new GMCs will cover two further regions: Yorkshire and Humber and West of England.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said “The opening of these centres, as part of our revolutionary 100,000 Genomes Project to sequence the genomes of NHS patients with cancer and rare diseases, underlines the UK’s position as a world-leader in 21st Century medicine.

George Freeman speaking at NHS event

George Freeman speaking at national NHS event

“Patients are at the heart of this project, and these NHS sites are the hubs through which we will pioneer new diagnostics and treatments for people with cancer and rare diseases.”

Dr David Black, Medical Director for NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber said: “The opening of a new world-class NHS Genomic Medicine Centre here means the region will play an integral part in transforming prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that are caused by genetic abnormalities or have an important genetic component. These include cancer and many inherited genetic disorders some of which are common, but others very rare.

“The work at the centre could help improve the prediction and prevention of disease, allow more precise diagnostic tests to be developed, and enable personalisation of drugs and other treatments. These advances are at the forefront of health technology and may improve both the outcomes and experience of treatment for many patients in the future.”

The initiative involves sequencing 100,000 human genomes – complete sets of people’s genes, plus all the DNA between genes – that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions.

Understanding DNA and how it can predict and prevent disease, provide a precise diagnosis and direct targeted treatment will soon play a role in every aspect of medicine, from cancer to cardiology.

The two new NHS Genomic Medicine Centres in Yorkshire and Humber and in West of England are extending the reach of the project, allowing for more comprehensive coverage of genomic medicine across the NHS in England.

This is good news for the future of healthcare in this country: the GMCs have a track-record of providing excellence in genomic services and have been evaluated by NHS England to ensure they meet the requirements to deliver the project.

Andrew Jack, Acting Clinical Director for Genomics in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We are looking forward to contributing to the success of the 100,000 Genomes Project.

“Genomics is key to the future of medicine and the formation of the Yorkshire and Humber NHS Genomic Medicine Centre will be a catalyst for the transformation of care. Patients with inherited genetic disorders and cancer will benefit though the provision of more efficient diagnosis, better patient information and by enabling access to the next generation of targeted therapies.

“We will achieve this by harnessing the enthusiasm of clinicians and patients across the region.”

Tony Gallagher, Chair of the West of England NHS Genomics Medicine Centre said: “This is an important step forward for patients and the development of future treatments in the West of England. The West of England NHS Genomics Medicine Centre is made up of provider organisations in Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham and Gloucester, the universities of Bristol and the West of England, the Academic Health Science Network, commissioners and patient organisations. Working together we have teams of dedicated and experienced doctors, nurses, counsellors, scientists, managers, commissioners and academics who are committed to realising the transformative possibilities that genomic medicine offers to patients in our area.”

There are now 13 designated Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs) across the country. It is anticipated that around 70,000 people will be involved in the 100,000 Genomes Project, which includes some patients with cancer and rare diseases.

After DNA samples are collected, they are sent securely to be sequenced. Genomics England, together with a range of partners, then analyses the data. Results will be sent back to the NHS for validation and clinical action.

Sir John Chisholm, Executive Chair at Genomics England, said: “It is fantastic that patients across England now have the opportunity to take part in this pioneering project. We aim to bring benefit to participants as quickly as possible – and we hope to offer diagnoses, as well as treatment recommendations. We are also delighted with the government’s recent further investment in the 100,000 Genomes Project. This means that genomic medicine can become embedded in the NHS, and positions the UK as a world leader in personalised medicine.”

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s National Medical Director, said: “We want to become the first country to introduce whole genome sequencing as a mainstream part of our national healthcare system. Better understanding genomics will help us transform how we care for patients, from one-size-fits-all to one-size-fits-one. These 13 NHS GMCs are on their way to bringing genomic diagnostics throughout the NHS in England, to the benefit of patients.”

Professor Sue Hill, the Chief Scientific Officer for England, who chaired the team evaluating the applicant GMCs, said: “The UK is already a leader in genomic technologies and the unique structure of the NHS allows us to deliver these advances at scale and pace for patient benefit. Yorkshire and the Humber and the West of England joining the established 11 localities will ensure equitable access to eligible patients in these areas to take part in this ground breaking Project. It is another step towards NHS transformation.”

 

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