The Yorkshire and Humber region will be playing a key role in the development of personalised medicine through the establishment of a new NHS Genomic Medicine Centre (GMC).
NHS England announced today that the region has been given approval to set up the centre as part of the national 100,000 Genome Project.
The groundbreaking project involves looking at the genomes of patients with certain rare diseases and patients with certain cancers. By comparing the genomes from lots of people, the NHS Genomic Medicine Centre (NHS GMC) will help to give a better understanding of the diseases, how they develop and which treatments may provide the greatest help to future patients.
The successful bid for the Yorkshire and Humber NHS GMC was led by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. It was supported by the other 11 acute trusts in the region along with the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network and our major Universities. It was also supported by direct input from patients and the public, which places the people off Yorkshire and Humber at the heart of crucial developments and improvements in healthcare.
Simon Morritt, Chief Executive of Sheffield Children’s and Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber NHS GMC Partnership Board, said: “Getting approval for a Yorkshire and Humber centre is fantastic news for our region. By working together, we will be helping to transform healthcare not only in the region but around the world.
“Genomic medicine is an opportunity to turn the scientific discoveries about DNA and how it works into active steps to improve the lives of future patients and identify lifesaving and life improving treatments.
“Yorkshire and Humber already has some of the world’s most advanced and respected genetics services and has extensive experience with clinical and academic research, so we are delighted to build on that expertise with our new Genomic Medicine Centre.”
Understanding DNA and how it can predict and prevent disease, provide a precise diagnosis and direct targeted treatment will play a role in every aspect of medicine, from cancer to cardiology, in the future.
This is good news for the future of healthcare in this country: the GMCs have a track-record of providing excellence in genomic services and have been evaluated by NHS England to ensure they meet the requirements to deliver the project.
A selection of patients with certain rare diseases or cancers will be invited to join the project. People have full control over whether they take part in the project and will be given all the information they need to give informed consent.
As many rare diseases are inherited, for rare disease patients researchers will also be analysing the genomes of two of their closest blood relatives. These relatives will be taken through the same consent process and can choose to opt out if they prefer.
Clinicians involved in the patient’s care will have access to the information to aid diagnosis and treatment. Any data used for research purposes will be de-identified and securely stored.
Dr David Black, Medical Director for NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber said: “The opening of a new world-class NHS Genomic Medicine Centre here in Yorkshire and the Humber means the region will play an integral part in transforming prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that are caused by genetic abnormalities or have an important genetic component. These include cancer and many inherited genetic disorders some of which are common, but others very rare.
“The work at the centre could help improve the prediction and prevention of disease, allow more precise diagnostic tests to be developed, and enable personalisation of drugs and other treatments. These advances are at the forefront of health technology and may improve both the outcomes and experience of treatment for many patients in the future.”
The new centre is expected to go live during January 2016.