Genomics initiative launches for cancer research

Cancer Research UK has launched the Genomics Initiative, a collection of nine high tech gene projects which aim to identify genetic faults to highlight people at the greatest risk of cancer, choose the best treatments and to start developing new drugs.

One project, led by Professor Richard Marais at the Institute of Cancer Research, looks at rare types of skin cancer, to find genes that make certain types more aggressive, with the aim of developing treatment to combat this.

Professor Marais said: “We urgently need new drugs to treat these rare but very aggressive forms of skin cancer. This project will let us build a bigger picture of the genes that are involved in the disease giving us an insight into the inner workings of skin cancer.”

Other projects are looking at: genes that put people at a higher risk of developing pre-cancerous growths called polyps and bowel cancer, how follicular lymphoma transforms into a more aggressive form, sequencing the genes in an aggressive form of childhood brain cancer, evaluating the effectiveness of treatment for pancreatic cancer patients, identifying key genes in skin cancer in people with no family history, finding new genes linked to breast cancer and understanding how stem cells in leukaemia pick up new genetic faults.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to launch the Genomics Initiative, which takes advantage of powerful new technologies to drive an exciting area of cancer research. We know that mistakes in genes are behind cancer, and they also drive how cancer act and respond to treatment. Understanding this better will bring real benefits for patients in the future, playing an essential role in the push towards personalised cancer treatment.

GP networking service launched

A new networking service is being launched to help GPs link up and commission mental health services more effectively.

The NHS Confederation Mental Health Network and Janssen have formed a partnership to provide a social networking programme, free to join for the next 12 months.

This programme will give GPs access to up-to-date policy information and allow them to share best practice, as well as offering the chance to meet face to face at regional meetings.

Mental health disorders present one of the most common forms of illness and one of the biggest spending items for commissioners, so the partnership is providing a fact sheet to set out the size of this challenge.

This fact sheet includes information concerning the number of people with mental illness, and which groups they fit into. About one in six people has some form of mental illness, and a quarter of these people are receiving treatment, usually in the form of medication.

Steve Shrubb, NHS Confederation Mental Health Network director, said: “By putting GPs in charge of commissioning budgets there are huge opportunities to get better at intervening early and making sure people get access to the most appropriate care. There is, however, a great deal of unease about how ready GPs are to take over the commissioning of mental health services.

“This fact sheet will launch a whole programme of work that the Mental Health Network will be undertaking with Janssen to help GP commissioners assume their new responsibilities in mental health.”

Isabel Laas, Business Unit director at Janssen, said: “The transition of mental health commissioning to primary care will raise questions and challenges for the effective delivery of care to patients. This partnership is a fantastic opportunity to help GPs optimise the way in which people affected by mental illness are managed by the NHS.”

Author's Bio: 

Roy Rowlands writes for National Health Executive an essential guide to health service managers offering a wide view of healthcare news, views and opinions