The Science and Technology Committee of the UK’s House of Lords has issued a call for evidence to inform an inquiry into genomic medicine.

Noting that recent technological advances make it possible to carry out genome-wide studies “with the prospect of finding out what variations in our genomes make us more susceptible to certain complex diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer”, the Committee says it wants to “identify the state of progress in genomic medical research and how its translation into clinical practice can be facilitated”.

A sub-committee, chaired by Lord Patel, has been appointed to address the issue. According to the Science and Technology Committee, the inquiry will “provide an assessment of genome technologies and their actual and potential impact on clinical practice in the post-genome era”.

Public meetings for the inquiry will be held from late April onwards and the Committee’s report is expected to be published at the end of the year. Evidence is invited from any interested parties on issues falling under the following headings:

- Policy Framework:
- For example, who is responsible for setting and reviewing policy on genomic medicine?
- Does the existing regulatory and advisory framework provide for optimal development and translation of new technologies?

- Research and Scientific Development:
- For example, what is the state of the science?
- How does research in the UK compare internationally?

- Data Use and Interpretation:
- For example, should there be a common public database for genomic information?
- Is other medical information recorded in a suitable format to allow optimal interpretation of genomic data?

- Translation:
- For example, given the pace of technological advances, how ‘future-proof’ is healthcare investment in this area?
-How meaningful are genetic tests that use genome variation data?

- Biomarkers and Epidemiology:
- For example, how is the study of genetic factors and biomarkers integrated for translational purposes?
- What impact will genomic data have on data emerging from projects such as UK Biobank, Generation Scotland and other biobanks?

- Use of Genomic Information in a Healthcare Setting:
- For example, how useful will genomic information be as part of individualised medical advice?
- Should there be a regulatory code (mandatory or voluntary) covering the provision of this advice?

“Genomic medicine may be in its infancy but it will clearly have a huge impact on the way health care is delivered over the next few decades,” Lord Patel commented.

“We have heard many ambitious predictions of the positive impact genomic medicine could have on a whole range of complex common diseases. Our inquiry will seek to identify what exactly is the state of genomic medical research both within the UK and worldwide.”

The deadline for the submission of written evidence is 21 April 2008.