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UK Plans to Sequence 5M Genomes in Next Five Years

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The UK's Department of Health and Social Care has announced its plans to sequence five million genomes in the UK over the next five years.

From 2019 onward, the National Health Service will offer "all seriously ill children" whole-genome sequencing as part of their standard care, as well as to adults with certain rare diseases or "hard-to-treat" illnesses, the UK government said. In addition, patients will be asked to give consent for their genomic data to be analyzed in an effort to develop new tests and treatments for cancer and rare diseases.

The NHS Genomic Medicine Service will also expand on existing projects, such as the 100,000 Genomics Project. The NHS and the charity UK Biobank will sequence 1 million whole genomics within five years. The multi-year project will bring together industry experts such as UK Research and Innovation, the NHS, and other partners, the government noted.

Financial details of the plan were not disclosed.

"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," UK Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement. "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."