£50m funding unveiled for NHS gene research

The government is set to promote the development of genetics within the NHS following its decision to plough £50 million into the scheme over the next three years.

The White Paper 'Our Inheritance, Our Future - Realising the potential of genetics in the NHS' sets out the government's strategy.

The paper proposes that:
  • £18 million will be spent on upgrading genetics laboratories to prepare them for the expansion in genetic testing
  • more than £7 million will be spent on new initiatives to develop genetics based healthcare
  • investment of up to £3 million will be used to support gene therapy research on single gene disorders and a further £2.5 million over five years to support gene therapy research for cystic fibrosis - the most common single gene disorder in the UK
  • £4 million will also be spent on gene therapy manufacturing facilities
  • more than £4 million will be spent on pharmacogenetics research on commonly used drugs, and a new university Chair and department in pharmacogenetics will be set up.
The White Paper also includes plans to ban DNA theft, making it an offence to test someone's DNA without their consent (except as part of their medical treatment where consent is impossible to obtain, or in the lawful use by police and courts).

Secretary of State for Health John Reid said: "Our vision is for the NHS to lead the world in taking maximum advantage of the safe, effective and ethical application of the new genetic knowledge and technologies for all patients as soon as they become available. At the same time this government will make sure there are safeguards and controls in place to guard against inappropriate use of developments in genetics."


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