The UK government, Welsh and Scottish governments and Northern Ireland Assembly on 18th March 2022 agreed a series of commitments which set out priority actions for genomics initiatives across the UK which are part of wider plans to improve healthcare through genomics. According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the commitments will enable patients to benefit from faster cancer diagnosis and innovative new treatments.
The key commitments announced by the DHSC are as follows:
- Improve cancer diagnosis and treatment by working on the closer integration of genomic-enabled profiling of cancers with increased access to clinical trials to provide better personalised medicine
- Improve early detection of disease by establishing an evidence-based approach to newborn genome sequencing
- Build on the successful UK-wise partnership in sequencing of COVID-19 to strengthen collaboration on sequencing of other diseases
- Encourage innovative industry partnerships in research and development across the UK to support implementation of Genome UK
- Produce high-quality research by bringing together genomic data sets across the UK and increasing access to clinical trials.
Other commitments made in relation to medicines include:
- Work together to ensure that advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) that are approved for the treatment of rare diseases are supported by appropriate clinical genomic testing. In relation to this, NHS England and Improvement will develop a strategic approach for gene therapies and other ATMPs by summer 2022
- In cancer diagnosis and treatment, commit to work on the closer integration of genomic-enabled profiling of cancers with increased access to clinical trials and molecularly matched therapies, thereby “delivering on the promise of personalised medicine”
- Explore how personalised therapies can be extended to other patient groups.
Finally, the agreement sets out the four nations’ intention to work closely with industry including via the following shared commitments:
- A joint workshop in partnership with industry associations – including the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and Bioindustry Association (BIA) – will be held in spring 2022 to discuss industry priorities and how these should be reflected in Genome UK implementation.
- Encourage innovative and cutting-edge industry partnerships in research and development
- Foster a supportive and attractive environment for genomics SMEs by encouraging access to data assets, biosampling capabilities, and collaborative academic and clinical expertise across the UK
- Continue to work with industry and charity partners on initiatives such as Our Future Health and UK Biobank.
- www.gov.uk, “New UK-wide ambitions to accelerate genomic research and drive innovation in healthcare”, 18th March 2022