3 October 2018
The Trust’s clinical genetics and genomics service has joined a new genetic testing network that is set to revolutionise the way rare genetic diseases are identified across south London and the south east.
A group of expert laboratories, including the hospitals’ clinical genomics service, has won a five-year contract to carry out genetic testing services for the whole of south London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex – an area with around eight million residents.
The contract starts in April 2019 and the network will be one of the largest providers of its kind in the UK.
Our clinical genetics and genomics laboratory will specialise in detecting cardiac and respiratory genetic diseases and will be one of just four centres nationwide commissioned by NHS England to provide cardiac genetic testing, and one of only three for respiratory testing.
Dr Deborah Morris-Rosendahl, consultant clinical scientist and head of clinical genetics, said: “I am delighted that we have been chosen to take part in this exciting initiative that will make genetic testing more efficient and consistent nationwide.
“The new network will undoubtedly increase demand for our genetic testing service. Two of our partners – St George’s Hospital and Guys and St Thomas’ – have well-established inherited cardiac conditions services, and being one of only three respiratory testing centres will see requests coming to us from hospitals nationwide.
“In anticipation of the increase in demand we have invested in some new equipment, with significant funding from the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity.”
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: “I’m incredibly excited”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m proud to announce we are expanding our 100,000 Genome Project so that one million whole genomes will now be sequenced by the NHS and the UK Biobank.
“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.”
The partner organisations in the Trust’s network are:
- Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
- King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
- South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
- St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The scale of the new service means that clinicians will be able to access testing for more than 500 different conditions seven days a week, increasing the number of rare genetic diseases and cancer types that can be tested for and enabling results to be delivered much quicker.
Testing usually involves having a blood or tissue sample taken, which is analysed in a clinical genomics laboratory.
The NHS England commissioned service will provide both differential diagnostic testing, which identifies or rules out a genetic cause of an inherited disease in a patient, and predictive (or ‘cascade’) testing, which determines whether a healthy person from a family with a history of a genetic disease is likely to develop that disease later in life.
The new network follows on from the 100,000 genomes project, which will close at the end of the year after it has met its target of sequencing 100,000 whole human genomes.