by Thomas Meek at the Westminster Health Forum
LONDON, Feb 23 (APM) - The UK’s 100,000 genome project will transform the way care is delivered on the National Health Service (NHS) once the programme comes to end later this year, one of the projects leaders has said.
NHS England and Genomics England will take everything they have learnt from the large-scale genomic analysis project and morph it into normal NHS practice after October this year in order to deliver care that is more personalised and effective, said Professor Angela Douglas at a conference on Thursday.
The project was launched in 2012 to map the genome of 100,000 patients with cancer or a rare disease in order to understand better how a person’s genome relates to these conditions. The aim is to improve diagnosis and treatment for these patients and patients with similar diseases in the future (APMHE 36325
Douglas, who is clinical programme director at one of the project’s sites in the north west of England, said at a Westminster Health Forum event in London that the traditional approach on the NHS is for patients to receive a broad diagnosis and to get the same treatment.
However, with this approach, somewhere between of 30% and 60% of patients treated on the NHS are treated ineffectively, at great cost to the system, said Douglas.
“If we can apply a personalised approach that is informed by genomics and other healthcare records then what we can do is start to tailor treatment of patients so we can start to ensure more patients are having the most effective treatment first time. And we are not having all the side effects we are seeing in patients treated with the wrong therapies.
“We are moving from one-size-fits-all to a more tailored approach.”
She gave the example of five babies diagnosed with neonatal diabetes, all of whom had a different genetic subtype of the condition. Without proper genomic testing, all five babies would have received the same treatment, and just one would have been likely to survive.
By testing for different variations of the condition, doctors can tailor specific treatments for each subtype.
“That’s the power of what we are doing in the 100,000 genome project. And this is just one disorder and five babies. We are looking at thousands of different rare diseases and we are looking at 20 to 30 different types of caner. And hopefully we will start to understand more about subtypes of all of those and ensure that our patients get the right treatment first time.”