10,000 NHS patients 'to have genes mapped'
Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Monday, 21 June 2010 17:30
By Fergus Walsh
Medical correspondent,bbc newsl
An NHS hospital has begun decoding all the genes of individual patients, 10 years after the first human genome sequence was published. London's Royal Brompton Hospital said the project would give docto
rs a better understanding of the inherited factors that help trigger heart disease.
The research involves sequencing all 22,000 genes found in the human genome in 10,000 patients.
It heralds more personalised treatments for diseases.
Genes are chunks of DNA that contain instructions for making chemicals in the body. As well as controlling things like eye and hair colour, faults in genes may make people susceptible to disease.
Ultimately our aim is for someone to come in and have a full scan and genetic analysis, leading to a personalised therapy which will treat their particular disease
Project leader Professor Dudley Pennell
The sections of DNA that make up all a person's genes are known as the exome. Although genes represent only about 1% of the entire genome, they contain most of the key information for diagnosing inherited disease and for finding targets for new treatments.
In all 10,000 patients will have their genes sequenced at the Royal Brompton Hospital, which specialises in the treatment of heart and lung conditions, over the next 10 years.
They will also have a detailed MRI scan of the heart to show how it is functioning. The study has been made possible because of dramatic progress in the speed of DNA sequencing.
The research project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, which awarded £6m over four years.
How much would you like to know about your health? That was a question I had to consider when I was offered the chance of being the first person to have all their genes sequenced by the NHS.