New films highlight important role of genomics in improving patient care

A series of short films has been launched to highlight the ways in which genomics is changing clinical practice across the NHS.

The three films – Genomics in Ophthalmology’, ‘Genomics in Oncology: Inherited Risk’ and ‘Genomics in Oncology: Cancer Treatment’ – are designed to raise awareness among specialist clinicians. They were produced by Health Education England’s Genomics Education Programme in collaboration with clinical champions of genomics. The new series aims to provide key facts and useful information specific to each specialty.

In this film, Graeme Black, Professor of Genetics and Ophthalmology at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, says genetics is seen somewhat within an ivory tower and therefore not relevant to the general ophthalmologist.

He adds: “The pity of that is that the testing is now available and it is relevant to rare eye conditions that are seen by all ophthalmologists from time to time. It is something that should be available to all patients to whom it’s relevant. And the opportunities that come from that for management, for diagnosis and for screening are huge.”

He cites genomic testing in Manchester which has seen diagnostic rates for inherited retinal disease rise from 8-12% to 60-70% and for inherited cataracts from four to 70%.

He adds: The importance of that is in providing early diagnosis and therefore improving management and treatment and improving the likelihood of testing for family members.”

Ellen Copson, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology and Honorary Consultant, and Cancer Lead for the 100,000 Cancer Genomes Project in Wessex, explains how genomic data helps clinicians to identify more targeted therapies.

She says: “As a medical oncologist we see patients with all different types of cancer. Genomics is a really exciting aspect of cancer care so it is really important that oncologists embrace it so that we can ensure that patients really do benefit from these advances.”

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