Austen Shakespeare

Medical research given boost by UK government

The UK government has agreed to improve outcomes for patients through better genomic testing and access to clinical trials.

The new Shared Commitments for the first time set out priority actions across the UK and are part of wider plans to improve healthcare through genomics - the study of genes and DNA

The Genome UK strategy announced in 2020 builds on innovative work already underway to create the most advanced genomic healthcare system in the world and deliver better healthcare at a lower cost, and forms part of the government’s wider commitment to reform healthcare and ensure the UK and the NHS remain at the forefront of cutting-edge treatment.

For example, using research to evaluate the use of whole genome sequencing in newborns to screen for rare genetic conditions and diagnose rare diseases earlier, enabling more tailored treatment sooner.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our booming UK life sciences sector and the potential it has to transform health and care services.By harnessing the power and innovation of genomic research, we can reduce diagnosis times and use cutting-edge treatments for some of the biggest health challenges we face, including cancer.”

“By coming together and agreeing these new shared commitments, we will ensure patients across all four nations of the UK can benefit from these pioneering advancements and cement our place as a world leader in research and genomics.”

It’s hoped the testing will improve cancer diagnosis and treatment by working across the UK to better integrate genomic testing into healthcare and increase access to clinical trials to provide better, personalised treatment.

In addition, the research aims to improve early detection of disease by establishing a clear, evidence-based approach to Newborn Genome Sequencing, led by Genomics England in partnership with the NHS, alongside the devolved governments, to ensure learning is shared across the UK to benefit newborns and their parents nationwide.

Furthermore, the exercise expects to build on the successful UK-wide partnership in sequencing of COVID-19 to strengthen collaboration on sequencing of other diseases. As part of this, the UK Health Security Agency will set up a national group on disease genomics with representatives from the four nations.

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