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DNA Project 'to Make UK World Genetic Research Leader'

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the looking-for-the-true-descendants-of-arthur dept.

Biotech 65

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes A project aiming to revolutionise medicine by unlocking the secrets of DNA is under way in centres across England. Prime Minister David Cameron has said it "will see the UK lead the world in genetic research within years". The first genetic codes of people with cancer or rare diseases, out of a target of 100,000, have been sequenced. Experts believe it will lead to targeted therapies and could make chemotherapy "a thing of the past". Just one human genome contains more than three billion base pairs — the building blocks of DNA. Prof Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "I can see a future where genetics is going to come into every bit of medicine from cardiology to oncology to infectious diseases." "Twenty years from now there's going to be a plethora of those, we will have a series of mutations which academics and industry will have developed therapies for, which will be targeted at you and specific for that cancer." He said chemotherapy, which attacks all dividing cells in the body, would be replaced with such therapies. "We will look back in 20 years' time and think of blockbuster chemotherapy [as] a thing of the past and we'll think 'Gosh, what an era that was'." David Cameron has announced a series of investments across government, industry and charities totalling £300m ($500m).

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Chemotherapy is barbaric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587365)

We don't have to be 20 years in the future to look at right now and think what an awful thing chemo is.

The United Kingdom (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587531)

A century ago UK was the most powerful nation on earth, with colonies all over the globe. So powerful that it was said that the sun never rest on the "Union Jack"

The UK of today is very much different. The students who study computer course in school study how to use Microsoft Words and Microsoft Powerpoint

With the school system of UK's second largest city being hijacked by a certain religious group to inculcate students with extremist religious ideology --- UK is at the end of the rope

With all these going on, how probably will UK become the genetic research leader of the world ?

Re:The United Kingdom (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#47587817)

The sun still doesn't set on the British Empire. The phrase was and remains literal: It spans enough timezones that it's always daytime on British soil somewhere

So long as we keep control of the Falklands, the observation remains accurate.

Re:The United Kingdom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591111)

Except that the "british empire" is not an empire and has never been. Unless you call "empire" any loose alliance between countries with a leading member among them, and then NATO, the EU or even NAFTA would be "empires" too. Furthermore, the mentioned phrase had already been used by Spain several centuries before.

The crude truth is that several self-proclaimed "empires" (the british, the german, the french, etc...) have only been desperate, cheap, wannabes' imitations of the only real empire in western history: the Roman one.

Re: The United Kingdom (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 6 months ago | (#47588193)

The whole school system of Birmingham? I think you might be exaggerating slightly. It was a few schools and has been nipped in the bud. Don't bother posting any Daily Mail links please. I live in Birmingham. I also was allowed into Star City recently despite being an infidel just in case you feel like posting that load of old crap as well. Let me ask you a question Mr OMG BRITAIN IS A MUSLIM COUNTRY. What branch of Sharia Law would approve of the recent gay marriage law?

Re:The United Kingdom (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 6 months ago | (#47588983)

The UK could send the Wahhabi radicals you refer to back if it were to grow a spine, but the other religious radicals, the pitchfork-waving anti-GMO faithful who are all set to derail the program TFA refers to, are locally sourced.

Re:Chemotherapy is barbaric (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#47587543)

We don't have to be 20 years in the future to look at right now and think what an awful thing chemo is.

The trouble is acting on that knowledge today...

Re:Chemotherapy is barbaric (2)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 6 months ago | (#47588961)

What chemotherapy does is use toxic heavy metals to kill fast-dividing cells, in the hope that the fastest-dividing cells in your body are cancer cells. The problem is that the cells in your digestive system divide almost as fast, and are thus also killed off in the process. Chemo becomes a race to kill your cancer before you die of starvation.

Re:Chemotherapy is barbaric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47593273)

You're pretty ignorant if you think heavy metals have anything to do with chemo.

First steps (5, Insightful)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 6 months ago | (#47587371)

There's a big difference between mapping the genomes of cancer patients and developing individualized treatments, akin to the difference between being able to read a novel and being the editor. As it is, we can't even understand most of the human genome, but I suppose this is a step in the right direction.

Re:First steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587567)

Let alone that the each cancer is little different genetically. Speeding up and costing down the sequencing process and then the per person medicine manufacturing at scale would be one worthy goal. Mapping cancer patients might be good for the public health and save costs to the tax payers. It wouldn't help the individual patients, as the risk factors are pretty difficult to avoid in today's world.

Re:First steps (1)

RDW (41497) | about 6 months ago | (#47587995)

It wouldn't help the individual patients, as the risk factors are pretty difficult to avoid in today's world.

It can help at the time of treatment. We are already sequencing not just the germline DNA of the patient, but also the damaged genome of the tumour tissue. If a specific gene is found to be mutated that can be targeted by an existing drug, then the treatment can be tailored to the individual case.

Re:First steps (1)

Cutterman (789191) | about 6 months ago | (#47588773)

Not only is "each cancer is little different genetically" but the cells of any given cancer are not homogeneous copies - there is considerable heterogeneity, much more than in normal cells.

Re:First steps (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587633)

Plus the Republicans fight against any cancer treatment because it hurts the profits of corporations. That is the way of their kind. Expect them to allow the mapping but then to outlaw the creation of the treatment. That is what they've done in the past.

Re:First steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587807)

Republicans in UK? These bastards are spreading like cancer - only aggressive chemo or massive radiation therapy can help - I think Putin can be of help here - judging the way our politicians 'de-escalate' the crisis we can get the treatment unless of course Russian ICBMs won't fly.

Re:First steps (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 6 months ago | (#47588999)

Why would people who favor independence for Northern Ireland be against new cancer treatments?

we can do much more (1)

silfen (3720385) | about 6 months ago | (#47588559)

Biologists and chemists have become quite good at going from genes to treatments; meaning, if you know which gene causes a disease, in many cases, you can come up with a treatment. The holdup for cancer has been that, genetically, it's not one disease but thousands, many of which haven't been characterized. By identifying the genes responsible, people will be able to develop specific drugs and treatments, and many cancers will likely become treatable.

But correlating genetic and medical data will be useful for many other purposes as well: predicting disease progression and treatment outcomes, predicting sensitivity and efficacy of particular drugs, etc.

we can do much more - really ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591427)

perhaps you could give us some examples that make a statistical dent in the death rate ?
ie childhood leukemia is, on a total population basis, rather rare
we have known the exact molecular mechanism of sickle cell (including the hyper dependence on concentration of deoxy HbS for gelation) for sometime
hasn't really help

Re:First steps (1)

K10W (1705114) | about 6 months ago | (#47597963)

There's a big difference between mapping the genomes of cancer patients and developing individualized treatments, akin to the difference between being able to read a novel and being the editor. As it is, we can't even understand most of the human genome, but I suppose this is a step in the right direction.

Bearing in mind Cameron is an oaf I wouldn't be surprised if it was being rolled out for either similar behind the scenes purpose not too far off what you state, or another tory get rich[er] quick scheme. After all a lot of the gov investment and involvement in fair bit of projects has been a shill reasons with high vested interest, shares and so on in such things being the driving force and even willingness to damage the stated aim if it means more money.

they have a smaller data set (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587377)

they're all inbred over there, yeesh. Why do they age so damn fast and ugly over there? Their women are horrific, except the mixed Indian ones.

Get some diversity in there, will ya?

$500M is peanuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587407)

Government, industry and charities will have to ante up a lot more than that. The answers aren't just going to fall out of the sequences either.

Re: $500M is peanuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587697)

Money is the key to large scale industrialised testing, it doesn't get you a penicillin leap but it gets you sound incremental improvements. When it comes to understanding something like DNA money helps to get people on a task but inspiration just can't be hurried and getting many people together ensures they all think in alignment which can be counterproductive. Time will tell but half a billion will get people together and all the DNA sequences that are needed to be studied.

I wanna be a republican tory tuder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587419)

one of these days if only to be as stupid as is possible and yet not jump off cliffs while being so.

Very Much Informative (-1, Offtopic)

etunescafe (3772635) | about 6 months ago | (#47587439)

Really a very good information you have shared. Thanks a lot. by Tutorial and Tips [etunescafe.com]

DNA-targeted cures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587483)

"The Experts" have been doing this for twenty years. They're still working at it. I suggest the politicians try talking to an expert:



Re:DNA-targeted cures (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#47587535)

This is David Cameron we are talking about. His previous Big Bold Project involved attempting to build the great firewall of Britain to save the children from internet porn. He isn't one of those people who know how to size up a task...

Re:DNA-targeted cures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587801)

But he is trying real hard to be the big asshole - the peg for biggest is quite high and possibly out of reach for him but his attempts are to be appreciated.

Re:DNA-targeted cures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587981)

Cameron is merely jumping on this old news for a +ve soundbite.

Anything to distract the masses while he pushes through the privatisation of public health for his corporate paymasters, against the wishes of the country.

Re:DNA-targeted cures (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 6 months ago | (#47588629)

Canada has spent over a billion dollars on genomic research in the last seven years or so, this is an interesting project but he's a bit shy of 'world leader' status with this investment.

Re: DNA-targeted cures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47589441)

Money doesn't make you a world leader in anything, achievements do. This is the country that discovered DNA on virtually no budget, don't count them out just yet.

My god! (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 6 months ago | (#47587499)

Please clone Princess Diana!

Not again ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587539)

She had a hard life, all because of that bastard prince, and she had to die a very tragic death because of the goddamn royal family

And do you know when she was admitted into the hospital in Paris she was still alive ? And the order came down that no one was allowed to help her so all the doctors and nurses could do was standing around and watching her die a slow and painful death ?

My cousin worked in that hospital, she was at the scene and watching Diana died a very agonizing death

Try explaining why Limey's are knee-jerk socialist (1)

ClaudeVMS (637469) | about 6 months ago | (#47587583)

better yet - cure them...

I'm so paranoid... (4, Interesting)

BellyJelly (3772777) | about 6 months ago | (#47587701)

My first thought on seeing this was that it's a way round the limits on the police retaining people's DNA records. Now we need everyone's DNA and to keep it forever, because, you know, cancer!

Re:I'm so paranoid... (1)

NotInHere (3654617) | about 6 months ago | (#47587783)

You know with the fingerprint databases the US and others have, and this "new" (its already quite old, but does that matter, I was against it when it was introduced, so it is new) EU regulation that introduces fingerprints into passports, I don't know how much they should collect more... Giving my fingerprint to the government brings no use to me, but knowing my DNA uses me more than anyone else. I rather know my own DNA and have the risk of the government knowing it too, as not knowing it with the same risk.

Having your sequenced DNA at hand can be very interesting I think. Although I don't know of any "manual" that helps me to read it. Does anyone know of a good database that collects the scientific data about the genome? You know, something like 23andme, just offline and without google?

Re:I'm so paranoid... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47588365)

The genetic datases are very, very scary stuff.

                            So, Mr. "Schmidt", I see from your DNA that you are a Jew.....

And there's also the old "so, doctor, what blood type is the *milkman* if I'm not the father of this baby"? From Wikipedia:

                            A study in Michigan of 1417 white and 523 black children found non-paternity rates of 1.4% and 10.1% respectively.[11]

That study was actually done in 1961 and baed on blood groups.

Re:I'm so paranoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587791)

Or passing it off with the decoded genetic desease markers to "call me dave"'s jolly chums in the health insurance business, thus ensuring you never get coverage anywhere ever again. Its a health insurance actuaries wet dream.

Re: I'm so paranoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47588241)

What's this "health insurance" you speak of ?

Health care is a public good, not a profit opportunity

Re: I'm so paranoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47592055)

Your ignorance show that you are not an american slashdot reader, we have a free market health insurance system, and we don't need a socialist health care system. We can shop for an individualized health insurance that is cheaper because I do not have to pay for your kids or for mister smith's expensive cancer treatments. And all health insurance and health care providers compete to deliver the best cost/quality ratio, ensuring competitive prices. I hope we would refuse visa to foreign families with a member that has disabilities like Canada does, without this burden on our society my health bill would go down even more!

Re: I'm so paranoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47593609)

Except it has been shown time and time again, that the US system has the very very high costs for very very low outcomes


GM humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587739)

Look out, here come the mutants! Is there a strong guarantee that these genetic therapies will not cause more problems than they solve??

Also get the karyotypes please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587747)


Re:Also get the karyotypes please (3, Insightful)

RDW (41497) | about 6 months ago | (#47588005)

You can process genome sequencing data to get the same sort of information you'd get from a karyotype (translocations, missing or extra copies of chromosomes or particular cytobands, etc.), but at much higher resolution. Unlike a traditional karyotype it generally won't be derived from a single cell, though (which has advantages and disadvantages).

Re:Also get the karyotypes please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590779)

You actually WON'T get translocation information (at least not reliably enough to base clinical decisions on) from most sequencing technologies. Copy number is also hit or miss depending on your sequencing platform.

The lab at my hospital probably processes 20-50 microarrays a week on a clinical basis (not sequencing data, I know, but bear with me). These are custom arrays actually built to professional organization spec to be optimized to detect copy number gain/loss. At least 1-2 times a month we need the karyotype the really understand what is going on and this is with the arrays optimized for copy number detection. Sequencing pipelines are NOT optimized for copy number detection and most current algorithms frankly suck at it. Given that, I have a hard time saying that I'm going to send samples for JUST sequencing. On a clinical basis, I almost never refer a patient for whole exome or whole genome sequencing without seeing (or at least sending simultaneously) a microarray to look for copy number aberrations. If I find copy number changes in the patient I will typically ask for a karyotype (if one wasn't already done by the lab) to differentiate translocations from other forms of copy number change.

Re:Also get the karyotypes please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591197)

My somewhat limited experience is that a significant loss of heterozygousity (LOH) - anything more than a megabase - is trivial to see in whole genome sequence (WGS) data. But, as you note, copy number and breakpoints are hard - particularly the breakpoints.

To provide some background for others following this thread, there's a huge amount of repetitive sequence in the human genome and the typical read length is only 100 base pairs - if you join up the read pairs (from paired end sequencing) then you can get up to almost 200 base pair read lengths. But it's still a huge problem to identify reads that span the breakpoints. There's also ION torrent that can get much longer reads but I don't have personal experience myself - and I've heard informally that such reads have a lot of errors.

On the other hand, with high coverage (1000X) mitochondrial sequence it's a lot easier to find reads overlapping the breakpoints - but the mitochondrial DNA is only 16 kilobases and doesn't have the same problem with repetitive sequences as the nuclear DNA. Still, if we eventually get to 1000X whole genome sequencing then finding breakpoints in nuclear DNA will be a lot easier - just that it will be a huge computational challenge to process that many reads.

The one of very few decent things. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587901)

This is possibly one of the very few decent things he has actually done.
Admittedly only so he can get more votes. Do all the bad shit as early as possible, "hey look we fixed the economy", now do all the really nice things so everyone jumps on-board again.
It's not like old people care, they are the voters anyway. And half will likely have forgot.

Re:The one of very few decent things. (1)

biodata (1981610) | about 6 months ago | (#47590501)

It sounds like a nice thing to do, but let's take another look. Hundreds of million pounds of health spending go to Dave's mates in Cambridge, and the Illumina corporation in California. Not sure if like.

lack of vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47587903)

Revolutioninzing medicine is just a side-effect. The real benefit of better understanding DNA is the ability to engineer custom organisms from scratch, to use as biorobots, food, weapons, or other such purposes.

Re:lack of vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47588167)

It's the UK we're talking about here, they're probably looking into turning insects into cheap ubiquitous CCTVs.

what could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47588041)

Is this where we learn how closely related the people on that island are?

what could possibly go wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590811)

oddly enough, there's actually already a project doing that .... they presented data at the World Congress on Human Genetics in Montreal several years ago.

See www.oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk/features/what-makes-british

Political Hell (2, Insightful)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 6 months ago | (#47588115)

The US has shot itself in the head by forcing most genetic researchers to work in foreign nations. We are now somewhat of a cripple due to right wing forces and their idiotic moral wizardry. Mega billions of cash are lost to us as other nations acquire patents and develop products. While the right wing pondered the theoretical joys of morality in a stem cell other nations applied science and funding. The right wing in the US has turned us into Clown Central or maybe we should call it the Bad Comedy Club.

Re:Political Hell (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47588499)

Do you know the difference between genetic research and stem cell research? Very different fields. From your post, you sound pretty ignorant.

Re:Political Hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47588749)

Um, I'm a genetic researcher working in the US. If you want to blame the right-wing forces, your argument is, IMO, better based on right-wing insistence of reduced government, propagation of anti-science, creationist rhetoric, and privatization of profits with socialization of losses.

With this 100,000 Genomes project being announced, it is IMO a fairly clear sign that the US continues to be well on its way to losing the genetics "arms race."

Re:Political Hell (2)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 6 months ago | (#47589039)

A lot more genetic research is being destroyed by liberals who rip up fields of test crops than by fundamentalists inveighing against stem cells.

Re:Political Hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591583)

By the time the crops are planted on a field, a good chunk of the basic testing is already done: The steps that are delicate happen in greenhouses. If it's research ina field happening in the continental US, the same test is being performed in at least another 6 locations in the country: It's not as if you could trust any results on yield from just one field. So even if you went to some facility in Iowa and wiped out every test field in it, I doubt there would be any slowdown: Environmentalists would be better off dealing with out of the US facilities that are used to bulk seeds.

total crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591411)

Dear Sir: I don't know what planet you are living on, but the us is home to most of the companies that make DNA sequencers (illumina, ion torrent, pac bio, 454)
It is home to an awful lot of cutting edge research - we are still, chest beating aside, #1 in the world

True, China has made an effort, and in theory the BGI (beijing genome institute ) is one of the worlds top centers, along with wellcome sanger in the UK, but to say that we are not #1 is just idiotic

as for stem cells, do you know that this is a bandwagon ? maybe stem cells will do something; maybe not - but they are years away
we could be making electromechanical implantable devices for diabetics today, instead of wasting money on stem cells, which, again, are years away

why do i even bother ?

Re:Political Hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47592533)

The US has shot itself in the head by forcing most genetic researchers to work in foreign nations.

I'm an American research scientist (in the field of rare genetic disorders) currently working overseas. But it wasn't stem cells or ideology, per se, that caused me to move overseas - just money: I currently earn about seven (yes, seven) times as much as I earned in my last job back in the USA.

I assume that I'll eventually end up back in the USA - because it's a lot more convenient to live where you've got full citizenship. But I'm also considering somewhere a bit more socialist for the higher quality of life. Or maybe I'll try to go work at one of the top genetics facilities in the world (most aren't in the USA these days).

The one somewhat "scientific" reason I'd have for working in the USA is that, if I could get a job working with the federal government, then my work wouldn't be locked away under copyright (everything automatically goes into the public domain). For example, working at the US national database of clinical variants (ClinVar) sounds pretty cool - but I don't happen to know whether or not the people on that team are nice and reasonable - and that, more than anything else, is really the key to enjoying a job.

In the bigger picture, I wouldn't say that the USA is falling behind the rest of the world with respect to genetics research - but what little lead that it has is eroding rapidly. If the USA is content to run in the middle of the pack, then there's no need to change it's current course. But, if the USA wants to lead the pack, then the US government is going to have to pony up a lot more cash for next-gen genetics research - and the USA will also have to maintain it's public domain policy on federal government work (that's the main reason it's biomedical databases are so popular all over the world).

they are the perfect country to lead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47588173)

in this endeavour.. after all, they are kinda leading the world in unjustified and unwarranted sample collection and indefinite retention of them.

UK leads in monitoring and DNA (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 6 months ago | (#47589403)

The UK is extremely invasive and their people are OK with it. They DNA collect on their people as well as monitor them more than most nations. Their national health service provides them the cheapest means to access such info and statistics. Combine that with their monitoring system and you'll get the first serious genetic to behavior results.

What about Africa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47588321)

They have ten times as many people as in the U.K. Why aren't their countries doing amazing research?

Could it possibly have anything to do with the very DNA that this article about? How ironic.

The average African IQ is 70. SEVENTY.

Think about it.

Re: What about Africa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590315)

Nope. We're not supposed to think about things like that. You will just get modded flame bait and ignored.

Next time back it up with some credible sources... and you will be modded flame bait and ignored.

So, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47589783)

So, the Eugenics Wars are coming after all.

Total Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591395)

Countries all across the globe are sequencing human genonmes, 1,000 per year
I believe that the BGI (bejing genome institue) is sequencing, by itself, more then all of the uk

as to all the other nonsense her (chemotherapy is toxic heavy metals...sheesh, that is total gibberish)

what is it about biotech that brings out the 5 year old we can have talking robotic cars for 1 $ ?

free online ex back voodoo ritual at dr.obodo t (1)

spellcasting (3773363) | about 6 months ago | (#47591469)

Had a huge bust up with my partner Gerry, phoned Dr.obodo in tears, he said he could help, I must admit, I was very, very sceptical as didn't really believe he would be back after all he said, but it was just a few days when he phoned and asked to come over to talk, we talked and talked and the silly misunderstaning was all forgiven and we are back together now for good, all thanks to Dr.obodo, I would highly recommend his services, they do really, really work.Here is Info: templeofanswer@hotmail.co.uk or Cell: +2348155425481 Lynda, Devon.
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