West Midlands Genomics Medicine Centre notches up first year in operation

Posted on 16 December 2015 (Permalink)

A centre in the West Midlands which is helping to transform the diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases and cancers is celebrating its first anniversary. 

The national 100,000 Genomes Project sets out to collect and decode 100,000 human genomes – complete sets of people’s genes – that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions. Understanding DNA, and how it can predict and prevent disease, provides a precise diagnosis and direct targeted treatment will soon play a role in every aspect of medicine, from cancer to cardiology. The aims of the 100,000 Genomes Project are to bring benefit to NHS patients, create an ethical, transparent programme based on consent, enable new scientific discovery and medical insights and kickstart the development of the UK genomics industry. 

As part of the project the West Midlands Genomics Medicine Centre (WM GMC), which was launched a year ago in December 2014, will deliver up to 18,000 of the total number of genomes, drawing on its unique population demographic through a collaboration of 18 healthcare organisations. The WM GMC is designed to:

  • Enable the participation of patients and family members, with their informed consent
  • Collect and process samples to extract the DNA for sequencing
  • Capture clinical and other diagnostic information to inform the overall interpretation of the genome sequence and its expression
  • Validate the findings from whole genome sequencing for diagnostic and care management purposes.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust leads the WM GMC on behalf of all acute trusts in the region, with the University of Birmingham as its academic partner and the collaboration underpinned by the WMAHSN.  

One of the first 11 GMCs in the country, the West Midlands Centre was operational by spring 2015. Already, more than 6,000 genomes have been sequenced nationwide. 

Announced by the Department of Health today (16 December), Yorkshire and Humber and West of England NHS GMCs are the latest centres to be added to the NHS GMC network. They are expected to start their work in February 2016.