Unlocking the secrets of DNA – moving towards predictive healthcare
James Petter, Vice President and Country Manager for EMC UK and Ireland, comments on the announcement of a four-year genome project to unlock the secrets of DNA to help predict and treat cancer and other rare illnesses, lauding the project as a step in the right direction towards technology-led, predictive healthcare.
In the news today, details have been released about a project aiming to revolutionise medicine by unlocking the secrets of DNA in centres across England. Prime Minister David Cameron has said it “will see the UK lead the world in genetic research within years”.
This is fantastic news and a step in the right direction for the future of healthcare in the UK. The genome programme is an exciting development in the move towards personalised medical treatment and predictive healthcare and also highlights how important information and technology are in supporting better healthcare.
Collaboration between private and public sector organisations, along with patient consent, is essential to the success of this ground breaking initiative to become a sustained part of the UK healthcare model, and it’s great to see that this is already central to the programme. This type of collaboration is also crucial to ensure that insights are fed back into drug development, as well as patient care.
Personalised care is not currently possible within the NHS due to both the lack of personal information available on patients in real time and the lack of big data to use in predictive analytics. Informatics, making use of genomic and other relevant data, can help to identify the factors that put the patient at high risk of developing a condition and help tackle it before it strikes. Monitoring patients using data can also dramatically improve care management and reduce costs for the NHS, which is why today’s announcement is so significant. When you consider the £300 million investment in the project, this is really just a drop in the ocean compared with the potential savings to the NHS and opportunities for increased revenue to the UK health, education and research sectors.
Looking ahead, the real benefit of today’s news will come when we reach the point where we can translate the findings of the genomics research and use them in practice. The time lag between medical research becoming medical practice can be as long as 17 years and it’s crucial that this figure is reduced substantially to allow the benefits from this ground-breaking research to be felt by the patients across the UK.