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DNA testing key to future health care - CMO

Tuesday July 4th, 2017

The NHS needs to undertake more DNA testing to speed up diagnosis of rare diseases and improve cancer treatment, the Chief Medical Officer says today.

In her annual report, Dame Sally Davies concentrates on the "potential" of genomics to improve health care.

She says that a centralised laboratory system of genetic testing could reduce costs - and calls for all clinicians to be trained in genetics.

There should also be a national genomics board, she says.

The report says that patients diagnosed with rare diseases have, on average, consulted five different doctors and waited four years for their condition to be correctly identified.

She said: “This technology has the potential to change medicine forever but we need all NHS staff, patients and the public to recognise and embrace its huge potential.

"Genomic medicine has huge implications for the understanding and treatment of rare disease, cancer and infections - ending the diagnostic odyssey and tailoring the treatment for more patients than ever before.

“I want all appropriate patients to get the opportunity. My dream is in the end that every patient gets their genome done if they’ve got cancer.”

The report was welcomed by the Wellcome Trust, which has pioneered genetic research in the UK.

Its head of genetics Dr Michael Dunn said: “It builds on the 100,000 genomes project and the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s DDD study, which have transformed the way genomic medicine operates. Both have shown that these cutting-edge technologies can be used to diagnose and treat cancer and rare diseases, paving the way for their widespread deployment.

“For many diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge that can only be addressed through ongoing fundamental discovery science.

"It’s important that the clinical delivery of genomic medicine continues to adapt and evolve as new research delivers a greater understanding of the genetic basis of disease.”

Tags: Cancer | General Health | Genetics | NHS | UK News

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