Yesterday Professor Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, published Generation Genome, the Chief Medical Officer’s annual report for 2016. In her report she takes a detailed look at genomics, exploring how we currently utilise genomics in our health and care system and how its potential may be developed, and presenting a series of recommendations including:
- All genomic laboratories should be centralised and a national network established to provide equal access across the country
- A ministerial chaired National Genomics Board should be set up
- Genomics training should be offered to all for existing clinicians
- The next generation of clinicians should be equipped to practice genomic medicine
Welcoming the publication of the report, Dr Claudia Langenberg, a Programme Leader at the MRC Epidemiology Unit and Editor-in-Chief of Generation Genome, said:
Generation Genome’ sets out the potential for genomic medicine to benefit patients in this country. I hope that CMO’s recommendations will help to realise this potential and accelerate the implementation of equitable genomics-based care. Obesity is an example that demonstrates the power of genomic science to both improve the care of patients with rare diseases and identify causes of complex yet common diseases in the population. ”
At the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science (IMS), which houses the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories (MRL) and MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit (MDU) as well as the Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrine Clinic and the Weston Centre for Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes and Endocrinology, researchers adopt a multidisciplinary approach that combines genomic research with laboratory, public health and clinical science.
Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly FRS, Director of the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit (MDU) and Co-Director of the IMS, and lead author of the Genomics and Therapeutics chapter of the Generation Genome report, said:
There are now more than a dozen genetic disorders that have been identified to cause severe obesity that begins in early childhood. In some cases the identification of a specific genetic defect can lead to a personalised form of treatment for patients. In all cases the identification of such a genetic cause can help parents and carers better understand the health and behavioural problems the child is likely to face.
At the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science we have been at the forefront of discovering the genetic factors that lead to severe, early onset obesity as well as researching the genetic and environmental factors that predispose to more common forms of obesity. By embracing a multidisciplinary approach that involves genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, studies in model systems and in humans, at the population as well as the individual level, we hope to make a real impact on the fundamental understanding of obesity and its adverse consequences. We are also committed to using that information to inform improved prevention and therapy “.
Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit and Co-Director of the IMS, commented on the implications of genomics for Public Health policy:
This report highlights findings by our researchers that genetic factors play a major role in determining susceptibility to overweight and obesity in the general population. By studying both rare variants that contribute to severe, early onset obesity in a small number of patients, and the more common variants that contribute to weight gain in large populations such as the Fenland and EPIC-Norfolk studies, we have found that the majority of these genetic factors act by influencing food intake and satiety. Genomic research can help us to identify the key metabolic control points that could be targeted by therapies as part of a broader prevention and treatment strategy.”