NHS to usher in genetic medicine

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Government ministers yesterday promised to put the NHS at the forefront of the revolution in genetic medicine and perhaps eventually see everyone having the three billion letters of their genome fully sequenced.

DNA sequencing has become so cheap and fast that it will soon be used routinely to find the individual mutations within a person's genome, which could affect the type of drugs or treatment they are offered, Andrew Lansely, the Health Secretary, said.

This has already begun to happen with some types of cancer where patients are offered genetic tests to see whether they will respond to particular drugs known to work on a limited number of people, Mr Lansely said.

"The ability to use molecular testing of cancers to match individuals to the most appropriate treatment is revolutionary," Mr Lansley said. "We want to make sure that all patients can benefit from these tests as soon as the tests are recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence."

Genetic screening within the NHS will be overhauled and doctors trained to take full advantage of the developments in the genetic medicine of "genomics", which has come about following the sequencing of the human genome.

A report published yesterday by the Government's Human Genomics Strategy Group recommends a new national strategy to allow the NHS to adopt genomic technology, such as DNA sequencing and gene tests.

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