A new genetics service known as WINGS (Wales Infants’ and Children’s Genome Service) was launched last week. The service aims to invest in genomics at NHS Wales to improve patient care.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, officially launched the service via video link last week. He emphasised how this service aims to significantly improve management of patients.
In 2017, the Welsh Government outlined a precision medicine strategy; this aimed to make Wales one of the leading countries for genetic medicine. Now, NHS Wales is the first diagnostic service to use the high-throughput technology NovaSeq for testing.
The new service provides rapid diagnostic testing for critically ill babies and children with unexplained rare disorders. There are approximately 7000 rare diseases. Typically, for rare disease patients, there is a long ‘diagnostic odyssey’. This means it can take years for patients to have their diagnosis confirmed. With the development of next-generation sequencing technologies and the declining costs of whole exome and whole genome sequencing, our ability to identify causative genes for rare diseases has dramatically increased. WINGS aims to shorten this ‘diagnostic odyssey’ and enable doctors to specifically treat patients’ diseases.
Gething shared in his announcement that WINGS is a collaboration between doctors, scientists and families. This service will significantly improve management, resulting in shorter hospital stays, fewer invasive procedures and in some cases, better health outcomes for patients.
“I am incredibly proud that Wales is hosting the pioneering Wales Infants and Children’s Genome Service.
WINGS will play a major role in providing the right diagnosis, treatment or care pathway at the right time, helping shorten the diagnostic odyssey for children with undiagnosed genetic conditions, enabling clinicians, parents and carers make evidence informed decisions and reducing the anxiety of uncertainty.”