A newly-announced genomics laboratory is set to transform genetic testing for people in south London.
A network led by the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust will provide the lab to improve access to testing for rare inherited diseases and cancer.
The London South Genomic Laboratory Hub, announced by NHS England on Tuesday, is one of seven newly-commissioned genetic testing hubs across the country.
Dr Ian Abbs, Chief Medical Officer at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This announcement is fantastic news for people in south east England, who will benefit from improved access to genetic tests for a wider range of rare conditions than ever before.
“Our partnership is committed to using genomic medicine to identify diseases earlier and to better personalise the treatment and care we provide to our patients.”
The network will be one of the largest providers of genomic testing in the UK, delivering specialist services across the whole of south London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Genetic testing allows doctors to see whether a patient has a genetic mutation which can cause up to 500 conditions and to target mutations in cancer cells.
The measure comes on top of plans to expand genome sequencing to improve diagnoses. The process allows scientists to understand how genes work together, and could provide clues for targeted medicine.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “incredibly excited” by the tech to improve care for NHS patients.
He said: “I’m proud to announce we are expanding our 100,000 Genome Project so that one million whole genomes will now be sequenced by the NHS and the UK Biobank.
“I’m incredibly excited about the potential for this type of technology to improve the diagnosis and treatment for patients to help people live longer, healthier lives, a vital part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS.
“Today’s commitments form part of our bold aspiration to sequence five million genomes in the UK, using ground-breaking technology to do this within an unprecedented five-year period.”