Genome project to revolutionise medicine

A new genome sequencing project is underway to revolutionise medicine by unlocking the secrets of DNA.

In what is being hailed as “the next major step forward” in genetic sequencing, Genomics England is running a four-year project to map 100,000 genomes in a bid to understand the genetic codes of people with rare diseases.

The project is expected to be complete by 2015 and could help revolutionise medicines by allowing scientists to understand the difference in DNA between those with diseases and those without, with 15,000 families taking part.

Sir John Chrisholm, executive chair of Genomics England, said the time was right for “the next major step forward” but that “100,000 sequences is a very large step; it’s a huge commitment”.

Understanding DNA is increasingly being viewed as crucial in the effective treatment of disease by health experts. Professor Jeremy Farrar, director of the charitable foundation the Wellcome Trust, said: “I can see a future where genetics is going to come into every bit of medicine, from cardiology to oncology to infectious diseases”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged government support to the exploration of DNA, with a series of investments totalling £300m. Cameron said: “I am determined to do all I can to support the health and scientific sector to unlock the power of DNA, turning an important scientific breakthrough into something that will help deliver better tests, better drugs, and above all better treatment for patients.”