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UK invests in genetic research for cancer and rare diseases

Government outlines £300m boost for 100,000 Genomes Project

Genomics England 100,000 Genomes Project 

The UK has outlined new investments in its plans to harness genetic research to transform how cancer and rare diseases are diagnosed and treated.

The Government, which wants to map 100,000 human genomes by 2017, has agreed genomic sequencing deals with Illumina, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.

The partners will provide vital infrastructure and expertise as the NHS prepares to invite tens of thousands of patients to give DNA samples under government plans to make it the first mainstream health service to offer genomic medicine as part of routine care.

Prime Minister 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 on-going 100,000 Genomes Project will be boosted by an investment package of more than £300m, the largest share of which involves Illumina.

The San Diego-based biotech will receive £78m for the use of its genomic sequencing services and will, in turn, invest around £162m into the work in England over four years, creating genome sequencing knowledge and jobs in a partnership with Genomics England.

Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina, said the project to create the first comprehensive national programme for genomic healthcare would “push the boundaries of medical science”.

“This project confirms the UK as a leader in the global race to implement genomic technology and create a lasting legacy for patients, the NHS and the UK economy.”

Meanwhile, the Wellcome Trust has agreed to spend £27m on a sequencing hub at its Genome Campus near Cambridge to house Genomics England's operations alongside those of the Sanger Institute. The Medical Research Council has also earmarked £24m to help provide the computing power required by the enterprise.

The final part of the new investment package involves NHS England's promise to underwrite an NHS contribution of up to £20m over the life of the project. NHS England has started tendering for the first five NHS Genomics Medicine Centres, which are expected to be up and running by January 2015.

Simon Stevens, NHS England's Chief Executive, said: “The NHS is now set to become one of the world's 'go-to' health services for the development of innovative genomic tests and patient treatments.”

4th August 2014

From: Research, Healthcare

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