People in Scotland with cancer and genetic diseases are to have their DNA mapped to better understand, diagnose and treat their condition.
The Scottish Genomes Partnership - led by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow - has received a major package of investment worth £6 million from the Scottish and UK Governments.
Scotland’s Chief Scientist Office has awarded £4m to the project with an additional £2m from the UK’s Medical Research Council.
The funding will allow scientists to decode and analyse the entire genetic make-up of more than 3000 people in Scotland.
Linking this genetic data with clinical information will enable more precise molecular diagnoses for patients in the Scottish NHS, leading to more personalised treatment and selection of drug therapies.
This extremely generous funding builds upon recent visionary investment by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow to enable a major step forward in Scotland’s ability to understand diseases and more precisely target treatments, initially for cancer and inherited disorders.
It will also bring new understanding of the causes of both rare and common diseases, opening the door to the development of new treatments.
The universities will work closely with the Scottish Regional Genetics Centres, data experts from the MRC Farr Institute and colleagues from Genomics England to maximise healthcare benefits for people in Scotland.
The Scottish Genomes Partnership was founded following a £15m investment by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow in January 2015.
This initial funding enabled the Universities to partner with Illumina - the global leader in sequencing and genomics - for the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment for sequencing human genomes.
The equipment enables researchers and clinicians to study the genomes of both healthy and sick people on a large scale and faster than before.
The latest funding builds on a £4 million investment that was announced by the First Minister of Scotland for the Scottish Precision Medicine Ecosystem, which will link to the Scottish Genomes Partnership.
An additional £3.5 million has been made available by Scottish Enterprise to support industry-led projects in the field of genomic medicine that will stimulate business opportunities.
This funding creates a unique opportunity to translate the investment of Scottish Universities into immediate healthcare benefits for Scottish patients. The remarkable advances in genome technology over the past five years will now be available to patients in the Scottish NHS, bringing a new dimension of healthcare to Scottish patients with cancer and inherited diseases.