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    Centre vows to put North West Coast on genomics map at launch

    A Liverpool group vowed to make the region a renowned leader in genomic medicine at its launch event on the 27th July.

    North West Coast NHS Genomic Medicine Centre, a partnership led by Liverpool Women’s Hospital alongside the North West Coast Academic Health Science Network,  Liverpool Health Partners and involving several other NHS Trusts from the region, launched as part of the ‘100,000 Genomes Project’, backed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

    Angela Douglas, Programme Director for the group, said: “For the region to be one of only 11 successful bidders to embark on this project is already a massive achievement, and a feather in the cap for the North West Coast, but we want to do so much more than that. With the knowledge and skills contained across all of our various partner organisations, we have a real opportunity to make the North West Coast an internationally recognised centre of excellence and expertise in genomic medicine.”

    The ‘100,000 Genomes Project’, a three year project launched by David Cameron, has been designed to tackle the genetic causes of cancer and rare diseases.

    Angela Douglas continued: “The challenge of the project will be to embed its outcomes into routine health practice. The genomics community looks forward to working towards meeting that challenge. The project has the potential to transform the future of healthcare.  It could improve the prediction and prevention of disease, enable new and more precise diagnostic tests, and allow personalisation of drugs and other treatments to specific genetic variants.”

    The initiative involves collecting and decoding 100,000 human genomes – complete sets of people’s genes – that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions.

    Professor Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer at NHS England, who opened the event, said: “I was delighted to be present at the launch of the North West Coast NHS Genomic Medicine Centre. This marked the start of a transformation journey for the NHS to embed the use of cutting-edge genomic technologies into clinical practice, to improve outcomes for patients . The palpable commitment and enthusiasm of clinical staff, managers and patients to make the North West Coast NHS Genomic Medicine Centre a success was inspirational.”

    It is anticipated that around 75,000 people will be involved in this project, which will include some patients with life threatening and debilitating disease. North West Coast Genomics Medicine Centre will be recruiting patients with diseases that the group has particular specialist services for, and patients may well be asked if they wish to take part in the coming weeks and months.

    Some participating patients will benefit because a conclusive diagnosis can be reached for a rare and inherited disease more quickly, or because a treatment for cancer can be targeted at the particular genetic change that is present in their cancer. But for a number of patients, the benefit will be in the improvement in our knowledge of the influence of genomics on disease and how it is expressed in an individual, how other people can be helped with similar diseases in the future, and how different types of tests can be developed to detect changes beyond the genome.

    Life Sciences Minister George Freeman added: “Our understanding of genomics is transforming the landscape for disease diagnosis and medicines research. We want to make the UK the best place in the world to design and discover 21st century medicines which is why we have invested in the 100,000 Genomes Project. We also want to ensure NHS patients benefit which is why we have now selected NHS hospitals to help us sequence genomes on an unprecedented scale and bring better treatments to people with cancers and rare diseases for generations to come.”

    View the launch event videos and presentations here  

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