Chief Medical Officer calls for gene testing revolution

4 July 2017        

Category: BHF Comment

Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, has called for whole genome screening (WGS) to become as standard as blood tests and biopsies. 

In her annual report, Dame Sally said the NHS must seize the genomics potential so that everyone with cancer or a rare disease can get faster, better treatment.

Genetic testing of NHS patients in England is currently done at 25 regional laboratories, as well as some other small centres. Dame Sally wants to centralise the service and set up a national network to ensure equal access to testing across the country.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, says:

"Findings from research into genetics are now at the point where they can be used in the clinic for direct patient benefit. This important report sets out how genomic medicine can have huge implications for the understanding and treatment of rare illnesses, such as inherited heart conditions.

“The BHF is already investing in genetic cascade screening for individuals at high risk of the inherited heart conditions Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH) and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). We urgently need to fund more genetic research to identify the faulty genes responsible for these and other conditions so we can find new ways to treat people with inherited heart disease.”

Watch our short animation to learn more about this work and find out how your genes affect your heart:

 

 

Read interview with Medical Director, Nilesh Samani