The two countries will work together on understanding rare and undiagnosed diseases and cancer, and build stronger academic and institutional links. Working groups could start as early as February 2023.
The program was established by a memorandum of understanding signed by U.K. Health Minister Lord Nick Markham CBE and Thailand’s Minister for Public Health and Deputy Prime Minister HE Anutin Charnvirakul.
“Through our commitment to sharing knowledge, exploring training opportunities and pioneering joint research initiatives we can collaborate to deliver better health outcomes at lower costs,” said Markham.
Charnvirakul said, “This is the first partnership between Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health and the U.K.’s Department of Health and Social Care. It marks an important step for genomics collaboration between the two countries.”
This effort builds on the work of the NHS Genomic Medicine Service, the goals of which include:
- Being the first national healthcare system to offer whole genome sequencing as part of routine care, including for all children with cancer or children who are seriously ill with a likely genetic disorder.
- Increasing access to molecular diagnostics and offer genomic testing routinely to all people with cancer.
- Improving early detection and treatment of high-risk conditions including expanding genomic testing for familial hypocholesterolaemia.
- Linking and correlating genomic data to help provide new treatments, diagnostic approaches and help patients make informed decisions about their care.
The funding incudes £25M of UKRI-MRC funding for a U.K.-wide new initiative on functional genomics, which uses molecular tools such as gene editing to improve understanding of how genetic variation leads to disease and support smarter diagnostics and the discovery of new treatments. This builds on the U.K.’s Life Sciences Vision set out in 2021, which commits to “delivering a world-class offer on functional genomics.”
The U.K. recently allocated new funding to genomics to ensure a better quality of life for U.K. patients. In December 2022, the country announced a $215M plus investment in genomics to improve diagnosis and treatment. The country’s 100,000 Genomes Project is sequencing 100,000 genomes from around 85,000 NHS patients affected by rare disease or cancer. It has already helped diagnose rare disease in hundreds of children.
That funding is part of a new three-year plan to “develop, evaluate, and roll out new technologies across the health and care system and life sciences sector, bolstering the U.K.’s position as a life sciences superpower,” according to a press release.
Markham added, “Genomics has the power to revolutionize healthcare in the U.K. and across the world, so it is brilliant to be joining hands with Thailand for this exciting partnership. Both countries share the common goal of enhancing our healthcare systems with innovative technology and scientific understanding to reduce inequalities and ultimately save lives.”