Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announces ambition to sequence 5 million genomes within five years

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, today set out an ambitious vision for genomic medicine in the NHS – with plans to sequence 5 million genomes over the next five years.

The announcement, made as part of the Secretary of State’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, recognises the critical importance of genomic medicine to the future of the NHS. Mr Hancock announced:

  • Expansion of the 100,000 Genomes Project to see 1 million whole genomes sequenced by the NHS and UK Biobank in five years.
  • That from 2019, the NHS will offer whole genome analysis for all seriously ill children with a suspected genetic disorder, including those with cancer. The NHS will also offer the same for all adults suffering from certain rare diseases or hard to treat cancers.
  • Revealed the aspiration to sequence 5 million genomes in the UK, within an unprecedented five-year period.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“I’m proud to announce we are expanding our 100,000 Genomes Project so that one million whole genomes will now be sequenced by the NHS and the UK Biobank. I’m incredibly excited about the potential for this type of technology to improve the diagnosis and treatment for patients to help people live longer, healthier lives – a vital part of our long-term plan for the NHS.”

 Genomics England Chair, Sir John Chisholm, said:

“Today’s announcement by the Health and Social Care Secretary recognises the pioneering work of Genomics England, NHS England and others. In just five years, the 100,000 Genomes Project has amassed the world’s largest database of whole genome sequences with associated clinical data. In doing so, we have created the complex infrastructure and proved the concept of genomic medicine at scale in the NHS.”

 Genomics England CEO, Professor John Mattick, said: 

“Genomics England welcomes today’s announcement, which will accelerate the UK’s global lead in genomic healthcare into patient benefit, through improved diagnosis and prevention of disease. Genomics England is already working with the NHS to introduce genomic analysis into routine care, with rare disease and cancer patients receiving diagnoses that lay the foundation for more effective treatments. In sequencing up to 5 million genomes in the next five years, understanding of the link between genetic information and the risk of disease will grow, bringing new discoveries, new awareness and wider benefits to patients, and deliver the most efficient, effective and equitable healthcare system in the world.”

Genomics England Chief Scientist, Professor Mark Caulfield, said:

“Genomics England welcomes this ambitious new vision for genomics, which assures the UK will continue to be the global leader in the application of genomic medicine. As the UK database expands to 5 million sequences and beyond, new insights will help to save many lives, both in the NHS and around the world.”

Marc Stapley, Executive Vice President Strategy and Corporate Development, Illumina – Genomics England’s sequencing partner – said:

“As the industrial partner of Genomics England for the 100,000 Genomes Project, Illumina supports the scale and vision of the UK government in its endeavours to place genomic medicine as one of the pillars of healthcare.“

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