Great opportunties for Finnish companies in the field of Genomics in the UK
The real promise of genomics research has only recently become apparent as a result of the huge decline in the cost of genome sequencing, large public sector and pharmaceutical investment and a commitment to explore changes in the way healthcare is delivered. It promises to change patients' lives and increase life expectancy in an increasingly challenging global economy.
In the UK the Department of Health established a company, Genomics England in 2013, to deliver the 100,000 Genomes Project, the largest national sequencing project of its kind in the world.
The work has been contracted to 13 NHS Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs), in partnership with Genomics England, Health Education England, Public Health England and the Department of Health.
The GMCs are working to lay the foundations for a personalised medicine service across the NHS – setting global standards for tumour DNA extraction, whole genome sequencing and its analysis. The aim is to create a new genomic medicine service for the NHS – transforming the way people are cared for. The predominant focus of the 100,000 Genomes Project is cancer and rare diseases.
The core sequencing work within the 100,000 Genomes project was awarded to one technology company, Illumina. It, along with other 'preferred' partners has been busy on this project until now. Further major industry collaborations were announced in October 2017 while Genomics England partnered with Inivata and Thermo Fisher Scientific to improve understanding of cancer.
Whilst this work will continue, we believe that opportunity still exists, in the post sequencing research and product application work being performed within the 13 NHS Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs); The accumulated evidence demonstrates the wide range of skills necessary in this field from algorithm development to security and clinical application. The multidisciplinary approach to research and delivery of patient benefit creates significant research, medical and commercial opportunities.
Finnish companies, and owners of relevant intellectual property in Finland, may have an opportunity to collaborate with some of the 13 NHS Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs) via their Clinical Interpretation Partnership (GECIP) domains.
These opportunities could be in the form of commercial collaboration or via inter-institutional collaborations for exploitation of IPR which may exist in UK or in Finland.
As a concrete example of potential collaboration between Finland and the UK, the representatives from the University Hospitals of Leicester, the University of Leicester and University of Liverpool traveled to Helsinki in August 2017, for meetings at the British Embassy, University of Helsinki and main hospitals. The trip included also a meeting with a group of selected companies. The trip was supported by Healthcare UK and the University of Leicester in follow up to the recent: Developing a vision for Genomic Medicine Conference in March 2017. The trip was to follow up also on discussions started at the Genomics Collaboration event, arranged by Team Finland at Finnish Ambassador’s event in November 2016 (more details below), as well as a meeting by Leicester representatives with Professor Olli Carpen at the NHS Health and Care Innovation show in September 2016 at the Team Finland’s (Gateway to UK) stand.
The main aims of the visit were to build relationships and improve mutual understanding of political drivers, patient expectations, biobanking, electronic patient and family history records. The work now continues to identify future personalised and genomic medicine requirements and areas of possible collaboration based on local existing and developing expertise.
Liverpool is the international leading university for pharmacogenomics, and Leicester is part of the largest NHS Genomic Medicine Centre.
Establishing this partnership could be seen as a major step towards achieving the aim to see Finland to formally work with the UK in developing international genomic databases.
This event - arranged by Team Finland in collaboration with Finpro and Helsinki Business Hub, and hosted by the Ambassador of Finland - was to explore opportunities, and enhance the collaboration and investment opportunities between Finland and the UK, within the scope of scope of Genomics and the development of gene-targeted medicine.
More information on the UK Genomics:
The annual report by Dame Sally Davies, NHS Chief Medical Officer - the topic of which this year was genomics (published on 4 July 2017).
The summary report by Dr Paul Cornes on the above CMO report. Dr Cornes was the moderator at the Genomics Collaboration event on 3 November 2016 at the Finnish Residence in London. He says ‘The CMO’s report shows how the UK is approaching genomic medicine - with much of the same arguments as we had at the Finnish Ambassadors meeting in London’.