Month: March 2017

Whole genome analyses for cancer returned to the NHS within three weeks

One key aim of the 100,000 Genomes Project is to improve cancer care for NHS patients. Whole genome sequencing in cancer can enable clinicians to choose better treatments and improve
outcomes for patients through personalised medicine.

Circos Plot

Circos Plot from our supplementary analysis.

While the Project continues to recruit patients and develop the infrastructure for interpreting genomic data at scale, we are delighted that the first four cancer whole genome analyses from our ‘fast track’ project have been returned to the NHS in 18 working days of patient samples being dispatched to our whole genome sequencing pipeline.

Our ‘fast track’ project aims to provide cancer analyses within a timeframe that will help in clinical decision-making and care. It is a major part of our plans to build a sustainable legacy for cancer whole genome sequencing.

Further work is needed so the pathways for sample processing and data analysis in whole genome sequencing can be fully accredited for diagnostic use. NHS laboratories will now confirm our reported findings with a standard accredited test, before using the information to guide clinical management.

Chief Scientist, Professor Mark Caulfield says:

“During the early stages of our cancer programme, most patients will not see a personal benefit as we develop the tools, processes and systems to analyse genomes at scale. But this first set of fast-track results is very promising and confirms that we can return whole genome analyses in time to provide better outcomes for NHS patients.”

Throughout 2017 and 2018, we will return results for patients in both rare disease and cancer at pace.

Click here to view an example of our cancer whole genome analyses.

Further information about how genomics can improve understanding of cancer, and how the 100,000 Genomes Project cancer programme works.

Whole Genome Sequencing to diagnose TB

Public Health England has announced that Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) is now being used to identify different strains of tuberculosis (TB).

Public Health England logoThis is the first time that WGS has been used as a diagnostic solution for managing a disease on this scale anywhere in the world.  The technique, developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford, allows faster and more accurate diagnoses, meaning patients can be treated with precisely the right medication more quickly. Where previously it could take up to a month to confirm a diagnosis of TB, confirm the treatment choices and to detect spread between cases, this can now be done in just over a week by Public Health England’s Birmingham laboratory. This slows the spread of the disease and boosts the fight against anti-microbial resistance.

This world first service has been developed in partnership with Genomics England, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Wellcome Trust. The implementation of this technology will contribute to achieving the aims of the 100,000 Genomes Project.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said:

“The UK has a proud history of leading the world in science and innovation – this is another global first for our country. These pioneering techniques will change patients’ lives in the NHS as well as being used across the globe to slow the spread of a terrible disease and take the fight to drug resistant infection.”

Professor Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist at Genomics England, said:

“Genomics England are delighted to fulfil the transformative ambition of the 100,000 Genomes Project infectious disease programme for the NHS by finding a faster, better diagnostic approach for a tuberculosis which is a major infectious disease causing many deaths world-wide.”

Professor Derrick Crook, Director of National Infection Service, Public Health England, said:

“The use of whole genome sequencing to diagnose, detect drug resistance and very accurately type TB is a world first for any disease on this scale. By working closely with our partners, we are now able to use cutting edge science to effectively treat these patients with the right medicines quickly. We are immensely proud of the contribution this makes to the prospects of better treatment of TB globally. This approach will also increasingly be used for many other infectious diseases. Our ambition is to achieve this as quickly as possible so many infections can be better diagnosed and treated.”

The work has been supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, a partnership between Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford to enable clinical research for patient benefit and foster innovation to improve healthcare.

Read more on the Public Health England website.

Rare disease day at London North West Healthcare

Staff at Northwick Park HospitalThe 100,000 Genomes Project team at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust celebrated International Rare Disease Day by hosting a stall at Northwick Park Hospital, to raise awareness of the Project among patients and staff. Scientists from the genetics laboratory were also on hand, to explain the recent advances in genomic technology and whole genome sequencing.

It was a fantastic day, and demonstrated the improved healthcare opportunities now available to people with rare diseases. Likewise, there were good news stories of people who have received a diagnosis through participating in the Project. Doctors from different specialties were also shown how to refer patients for recruitment, helping to integrate genomic medicine into routine patient care. The news that such a service-transforming project was underway within the Trust was received with a great deal of enthusiasm.

Scotland study to probe causes of rare diseases

People in Scotland with rare genetic diseases are set to benefit from a DNA study that seeks to improve their diagnoses and treatments.

The study – launched by the Scottish Genomes Partnership in collaboration with Genomics England – will analyse the entire genetic make-up of 330 people with rare diseases and members of their family.

computer filesUsing advanced computing to link genetic data with patients’ health information, scientists hope to pinpoint differences in their DNA code that may be responsible for their condition.

The research aims to offer more precise diagnoses for patients and explore how whole genome sequencing technology could be used in clinical practice to improve treatment and management of the diseases.

Participants will be identified by NHS Scotland Genetics Clinics and invited to take part in the research along with members of their close family.

A total of 1,000 people will have their genome sequenced for the research, which will contribute to the 100,000 Genomes Project, a flagship project to advance clinical care through genome research.

Around 3.5 million people in the UK are living with a rare disease caused by a faulty gene, such as muscular dystrophies, rare forms of intellectual disability and rare inherited neurological problems. Although each disease affects fewer than one in 2,000 people in the population, there are between 6,000 and 8,000 known conditions which are often chronic and life-threatening. Doctors are describing new disorders every day but many people still do not receive an accurate diagnosis for their condition.

Scientist working at a sequencing machineThe study will take advantage of cutting-edge whole genome sequencing technology at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, advanced computing facilities at the University of Edinburgh and analytical expertise at Genomics England.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “I am pleased that the Scottish Government is supporting this initiative together with the Medical Research Council.  The launch of this study is a significant milestone towards embedding use of this cutting-edge technology by NHS Scotland to benefit patients with rare genetic diseases.”

Professor Tim Aitman, Co-Chair of the Scottish Genomes Partnership and Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, said: “Genomics has come a very long way since the publication of the first human genome in 2001. This collaboration enables the investment made by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow in the latest genome sequencing technology to make a direct and immediate impact on the healthcare of patients in Scotland. We look forward to working on this ground-breaking project with our partners in NHS Scotland and Genomics England.”

Professor Zosia Miedzybrodzka, Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian, and Chief Investigator of the study said: “The clinicians and scientists delivering NHS Scotland Genetics Services are delighted that patients in Scotland with undiagnosed genetic conditions will have this opportunity to benefit from finding out the cause of their health problem.”

Dr Marion Bain, Medical Director of NHS National Services Scotland said: “Cutting edge techniques and equipment mean that it is now possible to sequence an individual’s genome in a matter of days. As the cost of sequencing comes down, new analytical techniques are developed and our knowledge in this area grows, there is huge potential to develop more effective and cost-effective diagnostic and treatment services.”

I am delighted that patients living in Scotland will have the opportunity to benefit from genomic medicine by taking part in the 100,000 Genomes Project. Our aim is to bring new diagnoses for patients with rare disease and enable better treatments for patients across the UK.

Professor Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist at Genomics England said: “I am delighted that patients living in Scotland will have the opportunity to benefit from genomic medicine by taking part in the 100,000 Genomes Project. Our aim is to bring new diagnoses for patients with rare disease and enable better treatments for patients across the UK.”

Alastair Kent, Genetic Alliance UK said: “Whole genome sequencing has become an invaluable route for patients and families to be able to receive an accurate and timely diagnosis of their condition. The 100,000 Genomes Project has helped many families in England to understand their situation and plan for what awaits them. The development of the Scottish Genomes Partnership, and the linkage with Genomics England is very good news for Scottish families and for the whole rare disease community across the UK. We look forward to a long and productive collaboration that will boost research and bring exciting possibilities for patient benefit closer to being realised.”

The Scottish Genomes Partnership is a collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow, four regional Clinical Genetics Units and four Genetic laboratories commissioned by NHS National Services Scotland. It is funded by the Scottish Government and the Medical Research Council.

Find out more:

The University of Edinburgh

The Scottish Genomes Partnership

Announcement of Scottish Genomes Partnership investment