Sunday , June 13 2021

The NHS will offer paid DNA tests if patients share data

A sister took a blood sample from a womanCopyright on the image
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Health Minister Matt Hancock said he wants healthy people to become "genomic volunteers" to help scientists better understand disease and human genetics

People in England will be able to pay the NHS to sort their genes provided they share their data.

Those who participate in the planned scheme will receive a health report that can predict the risk of developing diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer's disease.

Health Minister Matt Hancock says this will help develop treatment that "will benefit everyone in the future."

But concerns were raised about the plans of the President of the British Society for Genetic Medicine.

It is possible that DNA tests may alert patients to problems that require further investigation. All data will be shared with scientists anonymously.

"Unlocking treatment"

Mr. Hancock said, "While healthy people do not have to have this service for free at the National Health Service, there are huge benefits to stacking as many genomes as possible.

"Every genomic sequence moves us one step closer to unlocking life-saving treatments."

The Ministry of Health said the project, which will be run by Genomic England, a company created and owned by the NHS, is still under development.

No details are provided about the start date or how much the service will cost.

After the successful completion of the 100,000 genome project in December 2018.

What is the 100,000 genome project?

  • Launched in 2012, the project reached its target in December 2018.
  • About 85,000 people have arranged the entire genetic code (genome). But since cancer patients also have mapped tumor DNA, the number of genomes is 100,000
  • One out of every four participants with rare diseases was diagnosed for the first time

But Dr. Anneke Lucasen, chair of the British Society for Genetic Medicine, said: "The NHS has always been free at the place of delivery.

"It has the potential to create a two-tier system."

She warned, "You can use genetic code to confirm the clinical picture, but you can not use it to predict what will happen in the future."

Dr. Lucason said the government otherwise has good and reasonable plans for genetic medicine, praising its commitment to collecting scientific data.

Genomics needs large data sets, ideally shared internationally.

The government has announced plans to arrange at least one million genome targets within five years.

In addition to paid DNA sequencing, the NHS regularly offers seriously ill children and adults with genetic diseases and DNA analysis of cancer.


From Michelle Roberts, BBC Correspondent

It's not about looking for rare genetic diseases in people at very high risk. These types of checks are now available free of charge to NHS patients.

The idea of ​​Matt Hancock's last announcement is to obtain data from the population to help scientists better understand disease and human genetics.

He wants healthy people to become "genomic volunteers" to help with research.

From a sample of blood, experts can look for small changes or errors in our DNA – the genetic code of life.

Anonymous data will help them build a picture of the nation's health and create new life-saving new treatments.

Genome volunteers will be able to pay to get a personalized report in their unique DNA profile.

But there are a few things people need to realize before they agree:

  • DNA tests should not necessarily give a clear prognosis or a final result
  • Healthy people are unlikely to benefit directly from testing
  • And tests can lead to discoveries that may need to be studied
  • Volunteers may also be invited to participate in other research projects, depending on the results of their tests

And there are still many unknowns:

  • How much will it cost?
  • Where will the test go?
  • How long will people need to wait for their results?
  • Can I have my health insurance coverage?

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