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NHS set to deliver 'world-leading' genomics centres

Genetics research plans could help create more bespoke medicines

100,000 Genomes Project UKNHS England is to create 11 new centres across the country that will lead the way in delivering on the UK's '100,000 Genomes Project'.

The project, first outlined by the Prime Minister David Cameron two years ago, aims to transform diagnosis and treatment for patients with cancer and rare diseases.

The new Genomic Medicine Centres (or GMCs) are the first in several waves of new centres that will be established across the country.

The first wave will cover areas including: Greater Manchester, the North West coast, Oxford, Birmingham and the West Midlands, Southampton, London, Cambridge and the East of England, Exeter and the South West Peninsula, and the North East.

Over the lifetime of the project NHS England's ambition is to secure over 100 participating NHS trusts for additional GMCs to provide comprehensive coverage across the NHS in England.

NHS England says in a statement that they have ensured that the GMCs meet the requirements to deliver the project.

It is anticipated that around 75,000 people will be involved, which will include some patients with life-threatening and debilitating disease. Recruitment to the project will begin from 2 February next year.

After samples are collected, they will be sent securely to its gene sequencing partner Illumina - results will be returned to the NHS for validation and clinical action.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England's national medical director, explains: “This is an achievable ambition which positions Britain to unlock longstanding mysteries of disease on behalf of humankind. Embracing genomics will position us at the forefront of science and make the NHS the most scientifically advanced healthcare system in the world.

“This is the start of a unique, exciting journey that will bring benefits for patients, for the NHS and for society at large.”

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman added: “Our understanding of genomics is transforming the landscape for disease diagnosis and medicines research.

“We want to make the UK the best place in the world to design and discover 21st century medicines which is why we have invested in the 100,000 Genomes Project. We also want to ensure NHS patients benefit which is why we have now selected NHS hospitals to help us sequence genomes on an unprecedented scale and bring better treatments to people with cancers and rare diseases for generations to come.”

The initiative involves collecting and decoding 100,000 human genomes - complete sets of people's genes - that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions. In particular it aims to improve the prediction and prevention of disease, enable new and more precise diagnostic tests, and allow personalisation of drugs and other treatments to specific genetic variants.

The first wave of 11 designated Genomic Medicine Centres are:

• East of England NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

• South London NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

• North West Coast NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust

• Greater Manchester NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

• University College London Partners NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

• North East and North Cumbria NHS GMC – designated GMC for rare disease only. Led by The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

• Oxford NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust

• South West Peninsula NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

• Wessex NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

• Imperial College Health Partners NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

• West Midlands NHS GMC – designated for both cancer and rare disease. Led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Article by
Ben Adams

22nd December 2014

From: Research

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