UK government to increase genomic research & innovation

The UK government is to step up genomic research, after COVID-19 caused thousands of potential cancer patients to miss their regular healthcare checkups

Due to the immense pressure on healthcare services over the pandemic, many people had to miss their healthcare checkups.

According to WHO, over 2020 3mn children missed their basic childhood vaccines. UK cancer charity Macmillan has calculated that there are 50,000 missing cancer diagnosis, from over the pandemic period.

But now, the UK government is to embark on a new healthcare programme for quicker cancer diagnosis, as well as innovative new treatments.

 

The study of genes and DNA in healthcare

The commitments focus on improved healthcare through genomics, the study of genes and DNA, through The Genome UK strategy.

Genome UK will include:

  • Integrating genomic testing into healthcare and supporting broader access to clinical trials
  • Starting an evidence-based approach to newborn genome sequencing, led by Genomics England 
  • Encourage healthcare industry partnerships across research and development 

Exploring genomic healthcare 

Healthcare professionals and Health Ministers were thrilled to present the findings.

“I am pleased today to jointly publish the Genome UK: shared commitments with the Health Ministers for Scotland and Wales and the Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences in England,” said Health Minister for Northern Ireland, Robin Swann. “These commitments will ensure that all patients across the UK can benefit from the wide range of opportunities offered by genomic healthcare so that the UK remains at the forefront of genomic research in the world.

“The future of genomics in Northern Ireland has the potential to be very exciting and far-reaching in its ability to benefit patients and families here, however it is imperative that we lay the proper foundations for the service to develop and thrive. Publication of these shared commitments today is the first step, and establishment of a DoH-led Genomics Partnership for NI will allow us to keep step with our UK counterparts and ensure future progress in this exciting field, for the health, wealth and prosperity of the NI population.”

“Genomics is already transforming lives, helping our scientists create new generations of treatments for many conditions,” said Jennifer Harris, ABPI Director of Research Policy. “To ensure patients can benefit from these new breakthroughs, a coordinated effort across the UK is needed – which these plans demonstrate. Today’s announcement is welcome, and we look forward to further collaboration between the government, the pharmaceutical industry and the research sector to harness the UK’s world-class genomics capability.”

“The UK is at the forefront of the genomics revolution and it is absolutely right that we should be working with other governments across the UK to deliver on our joint vision, said Eluned Morgan, Health Minister for Wales. “We are already working on our own genomics delivery plan through Genomics Partnership Wales, but it makes sense for us to share our expertise and research in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients across Wales and the rest of the UK.”

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