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Chelsea and Westminster partnering Imperial College Health Partners Genomic Medical Centre to join fight against cancer and rare diseases

22 December 2014

NHS England has today announced that Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has been designated a Genomic Medical Centre (GMC) in partnership with Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

NHS England has today (Monday 22 December) announced that Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has been designated a Genomic Medical Centre (GMC) in partnership with Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

These four trusts make up Imperial College Health Partners NHS GMC which will contribute to the successful delivery of the 100,000 Genome Project, a national initiative which aims to sequence the genomes of 100,000 participants, for the first time, to enable new scientific discovery and medical insights, and bring benefit to patients.

Professor Derek Bell, Director of Research and Development, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said: “I am delighted that Chelsea and Westminster is part of this exciting project.  This work and research has the potential to change our understanding of cancer and rare diseases, and help to shape future treatments.”

The trusts will work together to ask patients with cancer and inherited rare diseases if they would like to participate, gather their samples and relevant medical information to build up a bank of anonymised data in order to better understand the role that genes play in disease and what treatments will work best for each individual patient.

The project has the potential to transform the future of healthcare by improving our knowledge of the influence of genetics on disease, how other people can be helped with similar diseases in the future, and how different types of tests can be developed to detect changes beyond the genome.

In addition to these long-term benefits, some participating patients might benefit in the short-term as a conclusive diagnosis may be reached for a rare and inherited disease more quickly, or a treatment for cancer may be targeted at the particular genetic change that is present in the cancer.

Professor Jonathan Weber, director of Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), said: “The 100,000 Genome project has the potential to transform the future of personalised medicine. 

“The creation of Imperial College Health Partners NHS Genomic Centre will allow researchers and clinicians at the Trust and College to be at the forefront of medical innovation by sequencing genomes on an unprecedented scale. This could help us bring better treatments to patients with cancers and rare diseases.  

“We aim to translate our findings in as fast a timeframe as possible so that people could benefit from new therapies, personalisation of drugs and more accurate diagnostic testing.  The Centre is a clear example of the work of the AHSC which turns discoveries from basic science into improvements in patient care and clinical practice that saves and improves the lives of countless numbers of patients.”

Imperial College Health Partners NHS GMC is supported by Imperial College Health Partners Academic Health Science Network and is one of 11 centres of this kind in the world, all in the UK.