The UK Government has launched the latest implementation plan to deliver world-leading genomic healthcare to patients.
As seen over the last year, the UK has been a global leader in genetics and genomics. The strength of genomics in the UK has allowed them to lead the world in sequencing the COVID-19 virus. This quick response has provided critical data that has informed the response to the pandemic and has also brought the importance of genomics to public attention.
Over the past few decades, scientists across the UK have played a major part in important genomics projects, such as the Human Genome Project. In addition, the completion of the 100,000 Genomes Project (the largest study of its kind) set the stage for a new era of genomics. The UK is also home to the UK Biobank which has been at the centre of many progressive research projects. The UK’s strong genomics infrastructure has put them at the forefront in revolutionising genomic healthcare.
Last year, the UK Government published the Genome UK Strategy. This strategy specifically sets out how the UK will transform genomic healthcare over the next 10 years to deliver better healthcare at lower costs. Now, the Government has published an implementation plan, which highlights through a series of commitments how the UK will build towards the vision laid out within the strategy.
Genome UK implementation plan
By working with key partners across the genomics community, the new Genome UK implementation plan 2021 to 2022 sets out 24 commitments across the 3 pillars of the Genome Strategy. The pillars include diagnosis and personalised medicine, prevention and early detection, and research. These are underpinned by a further 21 commitments in 5 cross-cutting themes. The themes cover patient and workforce engagement, workforce development, data and analytics, industrial growth, and ethical and regulatory frameworks.
Within the implementation plan, they set out five high-priority actions for the financial year 2021 to 2022. These specifically include:
- Identifying technologies that could enable faster and more comprehensive genomic testing for cancer.
- Offering whole genome sequencing for patients with rare diseases and cancer as part of the NHS Genomic Medicine Service.
- Engaging with different communities to ensure diverse datasets and that genomic healthcare will benefit everyone across the UK.
- Beginning recruitment of up to 5 million people for ‘Our Future Health’, the UK’s largest-ever research programme. This programme aims to collect and link multiple sources of health information. This will help researchers to discover new ways to detect and prevent the development of diseases.
- Developing global standards and policies for sharing genomic and health related data.
Overall, these commitments are the first steps to realising the vision laid out in the Genome UK Strategy.
CEO of Genomics England, Chris Wigley, expressed:
“Since the days of Darwin, Rosalind Franklin, Crick and Watson and Fred Sanger, the UK has been at the forefront of genomic science. With this publication it’s exciting to see the next chapter of that story coming to life. Our ecosystem has come together as never before through the difficult times of the pandemic – and this implementation plan will allow us to build on this collaboration between all of the world-leading genomics institutions in the UK.”
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