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Matt Hancock announces new National Genomic Healthcare Strategy

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has today announced the launch of a landmark new strategy that will secure the UK’s place in the future as a global leader in genomics.

The new National Genomic Healthcare Strategy, Genome UK: the future of healthcare, will ensure the UK can offer patients the best possible prognostic, preventative and personalised care by harnessing the potential of advanced genome sequencing.

The strategy sets out how the UK genomics community, from researches through to the NHS, will work together to harness the latest advances in genetic and genomic science, research and technology for the benefit of patients, to create the most progressive genomic healthcare system in the world.

This will drive improvements in healthcare for patients, reducing limitations between clinical care and research, and continue to deliver innovative new research projects in the UK.  

The strategy is hoped to unite the genomics community through a shared goal for the future of the system.

The strategy focuses on 3 key areas:

  1. Diagnosis and personalised medicine – using genomic technologies to identify the genetic causes of rare diseases, infectious diseases, and cancer and provide personalised treatments to illness. The NHS will embed the latest genomic technologies to benefit patients.
  2. Prevention – genomics will be used to accurately predict the risk of chronic diseases. Subject to validation, national screening programmes could use genomics to identify at-risk populations, including more vulnerable populations and those in harder to reach groups to allow earlier clinical and lifestyle interventions.
  3. Research – we will enable more efficient and improved collaboration between researchers and clinicians to benefit patients, while upholding the highest standards on the use of data. This includes ensuring that research findings are translated into healthcare settings to benefit patients.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt 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, CEO 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.”

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NHE May/June 2024

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