UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has today announced the launch of the Genome UK 2021-2022 implementation plan. Genomics England projects that support the implementation of the Genome UK strategy will receive £17 million from the government, it was announced in April. This will be used in part to increase data from ethnic minorities in particular genomic cohorts, which could enhance diagnosis and treatment of those in the BAME community.
Genomics is a study of genetic information that helps diagnose disease faster and more accurately, reduce some invasive procedures, and enable coordinated treatment. Based on the success of the 100,000 Genomes Project, our commitment is to sequence one million whole genomes. With 500,000 genomes at the NHS and 500,000 at UK Biobank, it will transform UK healthcare and create jobs. From 2018 to 2019, genomics contributed £ 1.9 billion to our economy.
The implementation plan also aims to set out to “develop global standards and policies for sharing genomic and related health data”. The plan includes initiatives in both Scotland and Wales. In Scotland, the government will continue to invest in the development of genomic medicine and research, aiming to adopt a “Four nations approach” to delivery, “alongside seeking the advice and strategic direction from our Scottish Genomics Leadership Group,” the strategy said.
Scotland already has a genomics strategy in place, which the UK government’s implementation plan will build on. In Wales, the government is actively reviewing its genomics precision medicine strategy for the country. Launching the plan in the House of Commons, health secretary Matt Hancock said the government wants to “transform the UK into a life sciences superpower”.
“We’ll build on the success story of our life sciences during the pandemic, which has led the world in everything from vaccine development, to finding effective treatments that work, to genomic sequencing,” he said. “Today we’ve published our Genome UK implementation plan for how we can build on this even further including our commitment to sequence one million whole genomes. Because genomics saves lives, and I’m determined the UK stays at the forefront of this vital new technology.
“If we draw on ingenuity like this, we can keep up the fight against Covid-19, and tackle the other things that stop us living healthier lives such as cancer, dementia and heart disease. “We’re increasing UK investment in research and development, bringing much more of the supply chain onshore, sparing no effort to attract the brightest innovators and the best manufacturers, and the benefits will be felt in Newquay, Newport, Newry and Newton Mearns.”