Swindon patients to benefit from cure-finding research project

Posted: February 14, 2018

Learning more about rare and hard-to-treat diseases

Patients in Swindon with the most serious and rare forms of illness could soon benefit from a pioneering research project that aims to find cures for notoriously hard-to-treat conditions.
Since last summer, doctors at the Great Western Hospital have been working in collaboration with scientists at the Genomic Medicine Centre in Oxford as part of the national 100,000 Genomes Project.
The aim of the project is to collect tens of thousands of DNA samples from patients with conditions for which little information is known.
Scientists will then analyse the genome sequence inside patients' DNA to learn more about what causes a given disease and what, if anything, can be done to treat it.
A genome - often referred to as a person's genetic code - is the unique instruction manual inside each and every person that tells a body how to run and repair itself.
Medics at the Swindon hospital are now in the process of referring suitable patients, as well as members of their family, to the project.
Speaking last year when the Trust's involvement was first announced, Dr Raman Sharma, Consultant Paediatrician, said: "We're delighted to be involved in this project, which really is paving the way for personalised medicine.
"Genomic medicine has only been available for the last few years but, thanks to these innovative methods, the NHS now has an opportunity to turn important scientific discoveries about DNA and the way it works, into smarter ways of looking at diseases, their causes and how to treat them."
Anju Lazenby, Rare Diseases Project Manager at Oxford's Genomic Medicine Centre, said: "Looking at the genome of a person affected by a rare disease can help find which DNA changes might be causing the problem.
"This can be especially helpful when comparing that person's genome with those of their blood relatives.
"Putting this information together with details of an illness, and then analysing it, can give medical teams helpful information about a certain condition."
Patients from GWH being referred to the project will be among a cohort of more than 70,000 others from across the country who are also donating DNA through a simple blood sample.
The 100,000 Genomes Project first came to light in 2012 when former Prime Minister David Cameron - whose young son died from a rare and hard-to-manage form of epilepsy in 2009 - set out a vision for the NHS to become a world leader in genetic research.  
For more information about the project, visit www.genomicsengland.co.uk.

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