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DNA project to help fight cancer

05 January 2015 09:28

The project will collect genomes from 100,000 patients

The project will collect genomes from 100,000 patients

A £300 million project to map genetic codes of patients could help experts predict and prevent cancers and rare diseases, it is hoped.

Eleven new Genomic Medicine Centres (GMC) have been named as part of the 100,000 Genomes Project.

The complete genetic codes of some 100,000 people are set to be mapped out in the ambitious wider project, with the aim of improving understanding of how DNA can affect a person's susceptibility to certain diseases.

The 11 GMCs will be linked to NHS trusts in places like London, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton, Exeter and Newcastle. Scientists and doctors in these centres will combine information from DNA samples with patients' health records so that more-targeted diagnostic tests and drug treatments tailored to individuals.

Each cancer patient who takes part will contribute two genomes, one from blood and another from a tumour sample, while genomes will also be taken from those close relatives who have an inherited diseases.

People with cancer, or those who have survived the disease, can arrange specialist cancer travel insurance.

As part of the project's pilot phase more than 100 patients with cancer and rare inherited diseases have had their genomes sequenced, but the longer-term plan will see participation from more than 100 NHS trusts over three years, it is hoped.

The information collated by the project will be protected to keep secret the identity and private details of patients. However it will be available for universities and drug companies for research.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said the 'historic' project will see genomics become relevant to patients across the country and the NHS, taking its influence far beyond the laboratory and academia.