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100,000 British Genomes

A new initiative lead by the UK’s National Health Service aims to sequence the genomes of as many as 100,000 patients, a project that will cost £100 million.

By | December 10, 2012

iStock, alengoResearchers in the United Kingdom will soon sequence the genomes of up to 100,000 patients as part of an effort to better understand today’s most devastating disease, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced today (December 10). “This new plan will mean we are the first country in the world to use DNA codes in the mainstream of the health service,” said Cameron in a statement. “By unlocking the power of DNA data, the [UK’s National Health Service (NHS)] will lead the global race for better tests, better drugs and above all better care.”

The NHS initiative will devote £100 million (USD $160.9 million) to the “unprecedented” sequencing effort, a Nature blog reported. Some of that money will go towards training geneticists and healthcare workers how to analyze and use the data being generated, while some of the funding will be used to build the necessary infrastructure  to host the data.

“This is the first healthcare system that’s committed to whole genome sequencing, especially at this scale,” University of Oxford medical researcher Sir John Bell—who chaired the Human Genomics Strategy Group that recommended greater access to genomic tests and a centralized database for the results—told Nature. “What’s interesting about this is it will be used in clinical practice. It is really going to be used in a real healthcare setting.”

The UK government hopes to solidify the plan by April 2014. The genomes will then be sequenced with “diagnostic quality,” the data anonymized, and results gathered and analyzed.

(Hat tip to GenomeWeb)

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