In the week that the NHS turned 70 years old, the healthcare system is set to become the first health service in the world to routinely offer DNA tests. From 1st October, DNA testing will be used to quickly tailor efficient treatment to individuals.
“Hospitals across England will be connected to specialist centres that read, analyse and interpret patient DNA to help diagnose rare diseases, match patients to the most effective treatments, and reduce adverse drug reactions”, reports The Guardian.
The service is expected to generate a wealth of data on the interaction between DNA, health and lifestyles, which will become a powerful tool for research into cancer and other diseases. For example, the new service will see people with cancer having their tumour DNA screened for key mutations to help doctors work out which drugs to give the patient. It will also help determine whether patients might benefit from taking part in clinical trials of experimental therapies.
Genomics England, a company formed by the Department of Health in 2013, has already set up Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs) across England to deliver DNA tests on cancer, rare diseases and other conditions. The hope is that this personalised medical service will eventually be rolled out across the UK.
“We are ushering in a new era of genomic health. This is a big step and it grows over the next 2 years. It’s a total transformation”, said Mark Caulfield, chief scientist at Genomic England and Professor of Cardiovascular Genetics at the William Harvey Research Institute in London.