‘Generation Genome’ is coming to age says NHS’s Chief Medical Officer

I am glad to witness and participate via Repositive in the great initiatives that the UK government is embarked upon. The latest of these initiatives comes with great excitement through Dame Sally Davies, NHS’s Chief Medical Officer.

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In her latest Chief Medical Officer’s summary, to be strictly embargoed until 00.01 on Tuesday July 4th 2017, she presents a new set of recommendations that will drive forward NHS’s ambitious plans to extend genomics to the wider UK population.

This latest development is a clear green light into the implementation of the ‘genome economy’ in the UK.

Since early projects involving family sequencing for patients of rare disorders, tremendous efforts have been spent on developing UK regional hospitals to cope with the implementation and delivery of genome-based diagnostics and treatments. Now these recommendations from Dame Davies will have a palpable impact not just on rare diseases and cancer. She recommends:

  1. The establishment of a National Genomics Board, ensuring appropriate delivery of genome technologies for patients, research and industry, joined by the accompanying regulation to strike a balance between patient data consents for research and the exploitation of this data.
  2. The Human Phenotype Ontology should be used as a phenotype standard.
  3. Guides for clinicians on how to initiate genetic testing for those who need it should be provided.
  4. Access to genetic assessment to patients outside of rare diseases and cancer such as early onset obesity will be available.

What excites me most about this development is the potential these recommendations will bring, providing a baseline for the orchestration of government, research agencies, hospitals, regulation and the patient community. It is in this regard where, in my opinion, initiatives like Genomics England have excelled, becoming a referent to other national health service structures.

This kind of announcement is to my knowledge the first one where a government is committing to the widespread adoption of genome-based medicine universally for all patients. I will expect many other governments to follow suit. Good news indeed for researchers, academia, industry and any other genomics stakeholder based in the UK.

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