Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a new package of investment in the 100,000 genomes project that should propel the UK to world leader in genetic research into cancer and rare diseases.

The ambitious project is aiming to map 100,000 human genomes by 2017, in the hope of unlocking the power of DNA to help develop new targeted medicines and diagnostics, that could eventually signal the end of traditional approaches such as chemotherapy. 

The Prime Minister said this morning that the gene mapping project has received funding of £300 million in a stream of investment from various parties.

Illumina’s services for whole genome sequencing have been secured in a deal worth around £78 million, which will also see an investment of around £162 million into the project over four years.

The Wellcome Trust has agreed to spend £27 million on a sequencing hub at its Genome Campus near Cambridge, which will house Genomics England’s operations alongside those of the Sanger Institute.

The Medical Research Council has earmarked £24 million to help provide the computing power to ensure data is properly analysed, interpreted and secure, while NHS England, which has begun work on selecting the first NHS Genomics Medicine Centres, has agreed underwrite an NHS contribution of up to £20 million.

40,000 to benefit

Around 40,000 NHS patients could benefit directly from the research which, ultimately, will pave the way for genomics-based medicine to become part of everyday practice throughout the health service, the government said.

“I believe we will be able to transform how devastating diseases are diagnosed and treated in the NHS and across the world, while supporting our best scientists and life science businesses to discover the next wonder drug or breakthrough technology,” Cameron noted.