Over the summer, British Prime Minister, David Cameron announced a series of financial investments in the field of genomic medicine. The aim? “To transform the way in which patients will be diagnosed and treated – making the United Kingdom a world leader” in this field.
To this end, almost 40,000 National Health Service (NHS) patients suffering from cancer or a rare disease will have to be enrolled and their genome sequenced. With this information, “medical teams hope to be able to choose the best form of treatment for each patient and to identify and regroup patients with similar genomes to boost enrolment in clinical trials“. The program also includes the drafting of a contract “between the Genomics England public organisation and the American Company, Illumina, one of the leading companies in the field of DNA sequencing and technologies based on the structure of DNA“.
This study program including 40,000 patients is based on another project which was also launched by the British Prime Minister but in 2012. This program intends to sequence 100,000 genetic codes of people suffering from cancers or rare diseases.
The British Prime Minister has the following vision for the NHS: “to create a unique health service in the world, in the short or mid term, where genomic medicine is routinely available for all patients“.
Patients wishing to participate in the program “must sign a consent form granting university scientists, doctors and industrial personnel access to their personal data. Although relevant patient-related information is automatically forwarded to the treating physician, scientists must submit their research project to an Ethics Committee, who will grant or refuse authorisation to access genetic data“.