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NHS to offer paid-for genetic blueprints that predict health risks | UK News



The NHS will allow people to pay for a report of their genetic blueprint that can predict major health risks.

Genetic data will be used to put together a health report that, it is claimed, can predict the risk of contracting a range of serious conditions such as cancer and dementia.

The initiative follows the launch of the 100,000 Genomes Project in 2012.

This has produced tens of thousands of genetic blueprints sequenced from NHS patients with cancers and rare diseases.

Data from the genomes is being stored both to benefit the 85,000 patients who contributed their DNA and to assist medical research.

Future paying customers will be obliged to share their anonymised genetic data to aid Genomes Project research.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Genomics has the potential to transform healthcare and I’m really proud that the UK is leading the world through the 100,000 Genomes Project.

“I’m determined to do all I can to harness this life-saving technology. So, from this year, seriously ill children and adults with genetic conditions, including cancer, will be offered DNA analysis as part of their routine care.

The initiative follows the launch of the 100,000 Genomes Project in 2012.
The initiative follows the launch of the 100,000 Genomes Project in 2012

“And, while healthy people should not have this service free on the NHS, there are huge benefits to sequencing as many genomes as we can – every genome sequenced moves us a step closer to unlocking life-saving treatments.

“So, alongside this, we’re introducing genomic volunteering, offering people the chance to pay to have their DNA mapped in return for voluntarily donating their anonymised data to help researchers develop treatments that will benefit everyone in the future.”

There have, however, been concerns about the plans and the chairwoman of the British Society for Genetic Medicine, Anneke Lucassen, said there is “misunderstanding about what whole genome sequencing can deliver”.

She told The Times: “There is a view that it will give you clear clinical predictions. And most of the time it will not.

“People tend to think the test finds a high risk or not, but without a family history of breast cancer the predictions might be very uncertain.”

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