Britain will have the most advanced genomic healthcare system in the world, the Government has said as it launches a new strategy to provide predictive, preventative and personalised care for patients.
The National Genomic Healthcare Strategy – Genome UK – will bring together experts and the NHS to harness the latest breakthroughs in genetic and genomic science, research and technology.
The strategy will focus on using genomic technologies to identify the genetic causes of diseases and provide personalised treatments for patients.
It will also predict the risk of chronic diseases – with the potential for national screening programmes.
The strategy will seek to provide more efficient and improved collaboration between researchers and clinicians, so research findings are applied to healthcare settings to help patients.
Its launch comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock – who had coronavirus in March – urged people who have recovered from coronavirus to join him in donating blood as part of a study examining genetic susceptibility to the virus.
Mr Hancock said: “Genomics has the potential to transform the future of healthcare by offering patients the very best predictive, preventative and personalised care.
“The UK is already recognised around the world as a global leader in genomics and this strategy will allow us to go further and faster to help patients right here in our NHS and give them the best possible chance against a range of diseases.
“The UK is using its expertise in genomics right now to advance our understanding of Covid-19, develop new treatments and help us protect the most vulnerable.”
Chris Wigley, chief executive of Genomics England, said: “This is an important moment for genomic healthcare in Britain.
“With the launch of Genome UK, we are a step closer to a future where genomics can improve everyone’s health and wellbeing, based on the latest scientific discoveries.
“Genomics England continues to focus our efforts on enabling genomic healthcare to help doctors diagnose, treat and prevent illnesses, and accelerating genomic research by providing the health data and advanced technology researchers need to make new discoveries and create more effective medicines.
“The speed at which everyone has come together to work collaboratively on this study demonstrates how significant genomic sequencing is in population health today.
“We now have a team of the best scientific minds and tech experts all working together at tremendous pace, to analyse the genomic data we have gathered.
“This work will help us to understand why the virus affects people in different ways, which will potentially allow us to personalise treatment, discover new therapies, save lives – and even prevent future outbreaks.”