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South London NHS Genomics Medicine Centre announced

Posted on 22/12/2014
DNA strand

The South London based Genomics Network Alliance, including King’s College London as a founding member, has been announced as a successful bidder in the race to become a pioneering Genomic Medicine Centre, part of the ground-breaking 100,000 Genomes Project.

Today’s announcement by NHS England is the result of a rigorous national selection process. It follows the Prime Minister’s pledge earlier this year to establish the UK as a world leader in genetic research and to transform patient care by unlocking the power of DNA. The national programme will focus on cancer and rare diseases and will enable pioneering research to decode 100,000 human genomes, a scale not seen anywhere else in the world.

A genome is one whole set of a person’s genes, plus all the DNA between the genes. Genomics is the study of the whole genome and how it works, but has also come to have a broader meaning to include the way that the genome is interpreted and the technologies that have been developed because of it.

The three-year project, which will begin in February 2015, has the potential to transform the future of healthcare. It could improve the prediction and prevention of disease, enable new and more precise diagnostic tests, and allow personalisation of drugs and other treatments to specific genetic variants.

The Genomics Network Alliance grew out of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre and follows a successful pilot project at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust. Serving a population of more than seven million people, it is a partnership between several of London’s leading hospital trusts and universities and two of the country’s biggest patient organisations:

•    Four NHS trusts: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust.
•    Two universities: King’s College London and St George’s University of London.
•    Two patient organisations: Macmillan Cancer Support and Genetic Alliance UK.
•    Two Academic Health Science Networks: covering South London (The Health Innovation Network) and Kent Surrey and Sussex.
•    One Academic Health Science Centre: King’s Health Partners

The four trusts will be responsible for recruiting suitable patients and their relatives to the programme, for collecting blood and tumour samples and for extracting the DNA from these samples. Macmillan Cancer Support and Genetic Alliance UK, as well as partners and networks across South London and Kent, Surrey and Sussex will help with patient engagement and communications to the public. The universities will also play a key part in genomic research and the training of health professionals in genomic medicine.

Dr Gerome Breen, rare disease lead for the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health and Senior Lecturer at King's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, said:
 
“We are excited to be part of this project, which is a world first, and our involvement means we will be working to include and recruit patients with autism and other neuropsychiatric disorders into the 100,000 Genomes Project. We will also be working with colleagues on a wide range of neurological disorders at King’s Health Partners. This is an unique opportunity to implement and encourage the spread of genomic medicine in both psychiatry and neurology.”

Professor Richard Barker, Chair of the Academic Health Sciences Network for South London (Health Innovation Network) and Chair of Genomics Network Alliance welcomes the announcement:

“This programme will encourage increasingly personalised medicine through the development of better diagnostic tests and better targeted medicines and we are excited by the opportunity to be part of the 100k Genomes Project, contributing to the development of a lasting legacy for genomic medicine which has the potential to transform clinical care.

“The organisations within our partnership are leaders in the field of genetics, and their combined strengths and expertise across rare diseases and cancer mean we will be able to make a huge difference to the way in which rare inherited diseases and cancer are diagnosed and treated.”

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said:

“Our understanding of genomics is transforming the landscape for disease diagnosis and medicines research. We want to make the UK the best place in the world to design and discover 21st century medicines which is why we have invested in the 100,000 Genomes Project.

 “It is great news that SLaM will help us sequence genomes on an unprecedented scale and bring better treatments to people with cancers and rare diseases for generations to come.”

To find out more about genomics and the 100k Genomes Project, visit: http://www.genomicsengland.co.uk/the-100000-genomes-project/understanding-genomics/

For further information contact Tom Bragg, Press Officer at IoPPN, King’s College London, on +44(0)2078485377 or email ioppn-pr@kcl.ac.uk

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