UCLH named as key centre in 100,000 Genome Project 

22/12/2014 00:00 
UCLH is one of six hospital trusts in north London to form a partnership and create the North Thames Genomics Medicine Centre to support the delivery of the Prime Minister’s 100,000 Genome Project.

The Centre will recruit patients to this pioneering study which will ultimately support the delivery of more personalised diagnosis and targeted therapy for patients with cancer and rare diseases.

Led by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the other trusts involved in the partnership are Barts Health NHS Trust, London North West Healthcare (LNWH), Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (RFL)and UCLH.

Patients receiving care at all hospitals in the Centre will be identified and asked with consent to provide blood samples for genetic analysis. By collecting and analysing samples on a large scale and matching them with the symptoms and the long-term outcome associated with these conditions, the genome project aims to position the UK as the first country in the world to sequence 100,000 whole human genomes.

In all, it is anticipated that about 75,000 people will be involved of which 40,000 will be patients with serious illness.  The aim is to help researchers and clinicians better understand, and ultimately treat, rare and inherited diseases and common cancers.

Patients at GOSH, Moorfields and UCLH took part in a pilot study for the project over the last year, which involved providing blood samples to Genomics England for detailed analysis. 

Supported by one of the country’s leading academic health science partnerships UCLPartners, Great Ormond Street came together with the other five partners to plan the creation of the North Thames Genomics Medicine Centre.

Today’s announcement means a larger number of patients who are receiving care and treatment in the North Thames region through all the partners will be involved in the rare diseases component of the study, which will start recruiting in the first quarter of 2015. Samples collected at UCLH, Barts and LNWH will also focus on the study and diagnosis of common cancers with a view to improving treatment.

Professor Lyn Chitty, the clinical lead for North Thames Genomic Medicine Centre and the North Thames Clinical Research Network and a UCLH clinician, said:

“This is a really exciting project and offers a great opportunity. We hope that by doing whole genome sequencing we will identify the underlying genetic cause for some rare diseases as well as potentially highlighting new treatments for cancer patients through a better understanding of the cause of their disease.

“In the longer term, this is a project that stands to transform the NHS. Ultimately, if we can make it affordable and efficient enough, whole genome sequencing could be used as one of the first lines of investigation to help clinicians diagnose diseases more quickly and without the need for numerous other tests, as well as identifying the most appropriate treatment.”

The North Thames Genomics Medicine Centre builds on an existing and established collaboration through UCLPartners. The partnership supports a diverse population of over six million people and has proven delivery of genetic samples, established consent protocols.  It is well positioned to fulfil its role in the 100,000 Genome Project.

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