£100 million DNA database hopes to 'crack cancer'

As many as 100,000 patients with cancer and rare diseases are to have their DNA fully mapped as part of a drive to revolutionise NHS treatment.

The money will be spent on training genetic scientists, mapping patients' DNA, and creating systems for handling the information. It will help build research capabilities for synthetic biology, facilities for manufacturing cell and biologic medicines such as antibodies and vaccines.

ITV News' Science and Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:

The project that first sequenced a human genome in 2000 cost around £500m, but technical advances mean the bill has dropped dramatically to under £1,000 per person. Patients will be asked for permission before their DNA is sequenced, and data will be anonymised before it is stored. Prime Minister David Cameron has said a £100 million investment in a DNA database will help to crack cancer and put Britain at the forefront of biotechnology.

By unlocking the power of DNA data, the NHS will lead the global race for better tests, better drugs and above all better care.We are turning an important scientific breakthrough into a potentially life-saving reality for NHS patients across the country.If we get this right, we could transform how we diagnose and treat our most complex diseases not only here but across the world, while enabling our best scientists to discover the next wonder drug or breakthrough technology.

– Prime Minister David Cameron

Professor Alan Ashworth from the Institute of Cancer Research said scientists can already pick out components that allow them to exactly match treatment to genetic changes.

He added: "What this means is treatments that are much more likely to work, and that are much less toxic because they target the cancer and not the normal tissues."

The Government announced that £100 million of new science funding allocated in the Autumn Statement would go to life sciences.