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Generation Genome - sequencing is future for NHS, says report

10 July 2017

By Jennifer Willows

Appeared in BioNews 908

The latest annual report of the Chief Medical Officer for England has recommended that personalised medicine approaches be adopted widely within the UK's NHS.

'Genomic medicine has huge implications for the understanding and treatment of rare diseases, cancer and infections,' says Professor Dame Sally Davies' report 'Generation Genome'. Patients should also benefit from speedier diagnosis and receiving the best available treatment.

It is hoped that the cost of sequencing, which continues to fall, will be offset by avoiding the wasted treatments and appointments caused by the current trial-and-error approach. The cost could be further reduced by concentrating the current 'cottage industry' of sequencing and interpreting genomes into a few specialist centres.

Around two-thirds of cancers currently have what are known as 'actionable genes', which allow a range of outcomes to be predicted with much greater accuracy than was previously possible. The number of these genes, and the number of cancers known to have them, are likely to rise as research progresses.

Actionable genes can indicate whether a patient is likely to suffer severe side effects from some treatments, whether a given treatment is likely to be effective, or even how likely a patient's cancer is to recur. These factors, if known, can help clinicians recommend the best treatment options for a given patient.

Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, welcomed the report saying that it 'showcases just how much is now possible in genomics research and care within the NHS'. He told UK newspaper the Telegraph: 'Further understanding and application of genomics will be essential to successfully tackling cancer and saving many more lives from this devastating disease.'

Genome sequencing could also help diagnose individuals with rare diseases, many of which present in children and have a genetic basis. These can often take years to diagnose, and patients may end up seeing multiple specialists before receiving a diagnosis (see BioNews 903).

There are some concerns about data security, however. The NHS track record for IT includes a cyber attack in May this year, and a National Program for IT which consumed over £11 billion between 2002 and 2011 before it was eventually scrapped.

'This technology has the potential to change medicine forever – but we need all NHS staff, patients and the public to recognise and embrace its huge potential,' said Professor Davies.

The Telegraph | 04 July 2017
Chief Medical Officer | 04 July 2017
The Daily Mail | 07 July 2017
The Guardian | 04 July 2017


23 October 2017 - by BioNews 
This film documents the Progress Educational Trust/Genomics England event 'What Does Consent Mean for Generation Genome?', which formed part of the Genomics Conversation...
31 July 2017 - by BioNews 
This film documents the Progress Educational Trust/Genomics England event 'What Next for Genomics? Providing Answers, Changing Lives, Transforming the NHS', which launched the Chief Medical Officer's report Generation Genome...
17 July 2017 - by Professor Sue Hill 
The Chief Medical Officer's Annual Report Generation Genome provides a comprehensive and considered focus on the potential of genomic technologies – coupled with clinical and phenotypic data – to transform the lives of patients...
10 July 2017 - by Dr Rachel Brown 
A packed public event, produced by the Progress Educational Trust in partnership with Genomics England, saw the Chief Medical Officer for England launch her report 'Generation Genome'...

20 June 2016 - by Rikita Patel 
Genomics could help predict drug side effects in patients with type 2 diabetes early in the drug development process, according to a study...
28 September 2015 - by Kirsty Oswald 
NHS England's national medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, has outlined how the organisation's approach to personalised medicine will develop over the coming years and expand beyond the work of the 100,000 Genomes Project...
26 May 2015 - by Sandy Starr 
From February to April 2015, readers of BioNews were asked for their views on the 100,000 Genomes Project - a UK Government initiative which aims to sequence 100,000 whole genomes from NHS patients and their families. 775 of you responded to our poll...
02 March 2015 - by Alice Hazelton 
Genome sequencing offers great potential for the effective diagnosis and future treatment of many conditions. But while the excitement continues to grow around the science, few have stopped to ask what patients, the ultimate end-beneficiaries of this technology, think...
23 February 2015 - by Sean Byrne 
Do you really want to know? This was the question presented in the award-winning documentary of the same title, and to the panel in a discussion that followed its recent screening by Genetic Alliance UK...

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