PM hopes to make Britain 'world leader in genetics'

Prime Minister David Cameron hopes Britain will become a world leader in genetic research after unveiling a "landmark" £300 million project which will map 100,000 complete DNA code sequences.

The study, which will be completed in 2017, aims to lead the way in research on cancer and rare diseases and could be pivotal to the development of future personalised treatments, which has the potential to revolutionise medicine.

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Genome project could help find cure for blindness

The government-backed genome project could help find a cure for a deadly eye disease which is the leading cause of blindness in children.

Professor Graeme Black, strategic director at the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, said it was a "very, very exciting development" in the search for a possible treatment for the condition known as retinitis pigmentosa or RP.

At the moment around 200 genes relating to the illness have been identified which if mutated can cause sight loss, but there are thought to be more than 500.

RP Fighting Blindness chief executive David Head said: "For people faced with blindness as a result of inherited retinal dystrophies, this is really important."

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What is the 100,000 Genomes Project?

The 100,000 Genomes Project announced today aims to map 100,000 complete DNA code sequences - the scale of which has never been attempted before.

  • About 75,000 patients with cancer and rare diseases, plus their close relatives, will have their whole genetic codes, aka genomes, sequenced
  • Cancer patients will have the DNA of both healthy and tumour cells mapped, creating 100,000 DNA code sequences in total
  • Scientists hope the project will be pivotal to the development of future personalised treatments based on genetics, revolutionising medicine

Father hopes project can help his daughter in the future

Edward Sherley-Price, whose 11-year-old daughter Alysia has been diagnosed with a genetic condition, said he hopes a "landmark" genome project will help her in the future.

Mr Sherley-Price told Good Morning Britain, "Now we've got this diagnosis we are at the very first rung of possibly many rungs of the ladder.

"With the genome project we can really think about ... focusing on the research on the condition that Alysia has got.

"Hopefully in months and years to come more and more potential answers ... are going to come to fruition and maybe help Alysia in the future."

NHS 'one of world's go-to health services' on genetics

David Cameron has announced a package of deals into gene therapy worth £300 million. Credit: ITV/Good Morning Britain

The NHS is set to become "one of the world's 'go-to' health services" for the development of innovative genomic testing, the head of NHS England has said.

Speaking as a "landmark" project to map 100,000 complete DNA code sequences was announced, Simon Stevens said:

The NHS' comparative advantage in unlocking patient benefits from the new genomic revolution stems from our unique combination of a large and diverse population, with universal access to care, multi-year data that spans care settings, world-class medicine and science, and an NHS funding system that enables upstream investment in prevention and new ways of working.

– NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens

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Research set to make chemotherapy 'thing of the past'

The £300 million genome research announced by the Prime Minister will make chemotherapy "a thing of the past", according to one medical expert.

Professor Jeremy Farrar, director of health charity the Wellcome Trust, believes genome sequencing has the potential to transform medicine.

It's actually happening now, in small ways. If you go into a hospital with lung cancer, for instance, that cancer will be sequenced.

Twenty years from now academics and industry will have developed therapies which will be targeted at you and specific forms of cancer.

We will look back in 20 years time and the blockbuster chemotherapy drugs that gave you all those nasty side effects will be a thing of the past.

– Professor Jeremy Farrar

PM hails 'landmark' research project to map DNA

A "landmark" project to map 100,000 complete DNA code sequences has been hailed by the Prime Minister, who hopes it will make Britain a world leader in genetic research.

Over the next four years, about 75,000 patients with cancer and rare diseases, plus their close relatives, will have their whole genetic codes, or genomes, sequenced.

Scientists hope the research will mean more treatments can be based on the patient's genetics. Credit: ITV/Good Morning Britain

Cancer patients will have the DNA of both healthy and tumour cells mapped, making up the 100,000 total.

Scientists expect the project to be pivotal to the development of future personalised treatments based on genetics, with the potential to revolutionise medicine.

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