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RCP welcomes government plans to expand genome projects from 2019

The RCP has welcomed the government's plans to expand existing genomics projects from 2019, which were unveiled at the Conservative party conference by Matt Hancock, the UK secretary of state for health and social care.

Responding to the health secretary's announcement, RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said:

The unlocking of the human genome has huge potential to improve patient care. The amount of information held within the genome is staggering so we must ensure we are focused about what we look into or else we will be disabled by the information overload.

Rare diseases, cancer and personalised prescribing are the obvious starting points.

As part of the plans, Hancock confirmed that from next year all seriously ill children, including those with suspected genetic disorders and cancer, will be offered genome analysis as part of their care. Adults with certain rare diseaases or hard-to-treat cancers will be offered the same option.

Genomics has the potential to speed up the diagnosis of rare diseases and to provide the best treatment earlier, reducing the number of invasive tests the patient must undergo. Since 2012, the UK's 100,000 Genomes Project has been sequencing the genomes of participating NHS patients with the aim of transforming the delivery of care. 

The move to increase sequencing in 2019 is the next step towards the government's target of sequencing 5 million whole genomes within the next 5 years.