Genetic revolution for south east England

Genetic testing for people in south London and south east England is set to be transformed following the announcement of a new genomics laboratory hub for the region.

SE London genomics collageA consortium led by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust will provide the new laboratory hub, which will be at the centre of a network made up of NHS organisations in the area, including King’s College Hospital, St George’s University Hospitals, South London and Maudsley and Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trusts and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

Known as the London South Genomic Laboratory Hub, it is one of seven newly commissioned genomic laboratory hubs across the country announced by NHS England. The south east England network will be one of the largest providers of genomic testing in the UK, delivering services to south London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, as well as providing a national centre for specialist testing for cardiology, gastro-hepatology, haematology, neurology, respiratory and skin conditions.

The national hub and network model will not only improve patient access for genetic testing, but will also support the development of more personalised healthcare. The ultimate ambition is for patients with rare inherited diseases and cancer to be diagnosed and treated quicker than ever before, wherever they live. The new service will allow clinicians to access testing for more than 500 conditions seven days a week, with some results being available in as little as three days. It will also enable the identification of gene mutations in cancer cells which can be targeted by new drug therapies.

The new laboratory hub will be delivered by Viapath, the independent pathology provider which is majority owned by the NHS through Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts. The hub will work closely with laboratories across south east England to ensure rapid access to existing diagnostic services, as well as developing new tests, and attracting the brightest and best clinical academic talent to the region.

Dr Ian Abbs, Chief Medical Officer at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said:

This announcement is fantastic news for people in south east England, who will benefit from improved access to genetic tests for a wider range of rare conditions than ever before. Our partnership is committed to using genomic medicine to identify diseases earlier and to better personalise the treatment and care we provide to our patients.

The new laboratory hubs form part of a range of measures announced today to revolutionise patient care through the NHS’s continued use of genomic medicine, including the sequencing of one million whole genomes. This builds on the 100,000 Genomes Project, which was launched in 2012 to achieve the target of sequencing 100,000 whole human genomes.

The King’s Health Partners Genetics, Rheumatology, Infection, Immunology and Dermatology Clinical Academic Group promotes academic input into the delivery of state-of-the-art clinical services, fuels investigative clinical research, and promotes the translation of basic science discoveries.