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[Slashdot] - Whole Genome Sequencing Could Save NHS Millions of Pounds, Study Suggests


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The use of whole genome sequencing could save the NHS millions of pounds, a study suggests, after it found a quarter of people with rare illnesses received a diagnosis for their condition through the technology. From a report: In some cases, the findings have provided reassurance for families that they have not passed their condition on to their children, while in others they have inspired life-changing treatments. Though individually uncommon, rare inherited diseases affect about 6% of the UK population, or roughly 3 million people. Traditionally, geneticists searched for the abnormalities underpinning such conditions by looking at the person's chromosomes through a microscope, but this is no good at spotting tiny, but often highly significant changes, such as single letter substitutions in the genetic code. Because of this, "many of the people who have a rare disease either live very long diagnostic odysseys to get an answer for why they are like they are, or they do not get an answer in their entire lifetime," said Prof Sir Mark Caulfield at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), a former chief scientist at Genomics England. In 2013, the UK government launched the 100,000 Genomes Project to investigate whether WGS -- which involves reading through the entire 3bn pairs of letters in the human genome -- could help doctors better understand the cause of patients' symptoms, and identify other family members who may be at risk. Five years later, NHS England became the first national health care system in the world to offer WGS to people with undiagnosed rare diseases and cancer as part of routine care.

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