A £200 million whole-genome sequencing project has been launched in the UK, using data from around 500,000 volunteers in the UK Biobank.
The expansion of the UK’s whole-genome sequencing project should help to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of many illnesses.
This builds upon the success of the 100,000 Genome Project, and should help to inform and progress drug development in this area. In particular, medicines that have been genetically validated are approximately twice as likely to become registered novel medicines.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, commented:
“I am incredibly excited by the potential of genomics to change the way we think about disease and healthcare. In an ageing society with an increasing burden of chronic diseases, it is vital that we diagnose earlier, personalise treatment and where possible prevent diseases from occurring altogether.
“This project will help unlock new treatments and grow our understanding of how genetics effects our risk of disease. It is one part of our world leading set of genomics programmes, including the NHS’ Genomics Medicine Service and the Accelerated Detection of Disease challenge, and shows that the UK is the go-to destination for genomics research and development.”
The project will involve a collaboration between domestic and international experts and should be supported by the announcement that international students, who constitute approximately 50% of full-time post-graduate STEM students in the UK, will be allowed to remain in the UK for 2 years post-graduation subject to certain provisos.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented that:
“Breakthroughs of this kind wouldn’t be possible without being open to the brightest and the best from across the globe to study and work in the UK. That’s why we’re unveiling a new route for international students to unlock their potential and start their careers in the UK.”
Read more from the announcement here.