The service, to launch in October, will allow the NHS to use DNA testing more widely in patient diagnoses and treatments. Hospitals will be connected to specialist centres that can test patients' cancer genomes or diagnose rare diseases and find the most effective treatments, including reducing adverse drug reactions. This is intended to allow patients to access the best treatments for their needs more quickly.
'Genomics England's mission is to realise the enormous potential of genomic information to enable precision medicine,' said Professor John Mattick, Genomics England's chief executive. 'As the technology and our understanding continue to grow over the coming years, we will provide genome analyses to inform personalised treatments and preventative actions tailored to individual circumstances.'
Genomics England has now passed the 70,000 mark in its project to sequence 100,000 genomes, just in time for the NHS's 70th birthday. The focus of the project has been on patients with cancer or rare diseases. The NHS Genomic Medicine Service will make use of this data to tailor patient treatment.
Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for England and lead for the NHS Genomics programme, said: 'The NHS has harnessed cutting-edge science and technology through the project to deliver real benefits for patients with rare diseases and cancer and in the growing field of genomics and health we are, once more, building a world-leading service that is admired and respected across the globe.'
The Genomic Medicine Service will start with treatments that have proven benefits for cancers and rare diseases. A future goal is to detect patients with early onset neurological diseases, including dementia, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. There is research ongoing into how DNA tests can work with other health and lifestyle information to pinpoint patients with risks for hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
'Genetic sequencing can revolutionise healthcare by offering truly personalised care to patients and their families,' said James O'Shaughnessy, parliamentary under-secretary of state for health in the House of Lords. 'This project is a shining example of a partnership between the public sector, the life sciences industry and the research community – with NHS patients reaping the benefits.'
Professor Dame Sue Hill will be discussing the future of NHS genomic medicine at the free-to-attend Progress Educational Trust/Genomics England event 'How Do We Make Genomics Everybody's Business?', in Manchester on the evening of Wednesday 5 September 2018.