New centres in west and north east of England join 100,000 Genomes Project

21st December 2015

Two new NHS genomic medicine centres are opening in the west of England and Yorkshire and Humberside to join the government’s 100,000 Genomes Project.

The new centres will be recruiting volunteers with genetic diseases, such as cardiomyopathy, to have all their family’s genes mapped.   The new centres are being added to the 11 centres already up and running and are expected to start their work in February.  Patients across England will now be able to take part.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland health minister Simon Hamilton has announced that over £3m will be invested in a similar centre in the country to take part in the English project.

 

The 100,000 Genomes Project, announced by the Prime Minister in 2012, is designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with genetic diseases and cancer.

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 underlines the UK’s position as a world-leader in 21st Century medicine.

“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.”

Dr David Black, medical director for NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber, said that the opening of the new centre in his region would play an integral part in transforming prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that are caused by genetic abnormalities or have an important genetic component. 

He said: “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.

Tony Gallagher, chair of the west of England NHS genomics medicine centre said 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 would be involved.

He said: "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.”

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.”