Genomic medicine is an important sphere in contemporary medicine and scientific research. Many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Singapore, the United States, Iceland, Denmark, and Israel are conducting genome projects of various scales. Below is a brief introduction of the three different genome projects in the UK, Singapore and the US. Although the nature, objectives and scales of the three projects differ, they are all vital research programmes for promoting the development of genomic medicine in their regions.
The United Kingdom: The 100,000 Genomes Project
In 2012, the UK government unveiled the 100,000 Genomes Project, focusing on Whole Genome Sequencing for patients with cancers and rare diseases, and linking the genomic data to a medical database.
At a cost of about GBP 300 million, the Project involved 13 Genomic Medicine Centres, 85 National Health Service (NHS) Trusts, and 1,500 NHS staff (including clinicians, nurses, laboratory staff, pathologists and genetics counsellors).
Through this Project, a secure infrastructure was established for the protection and analysis of clinical and genomic data. This was made available for approved academic and industrial research purposes to promote the development of local genomic medicine and further reform the NHS.
Rare diseases and cancers were selected as the Project’s focus as they have shown strong potential to improve medical treatment, optimising benefits for patients and scientific development.
Please click here to learn more about the details of the Project.
Singapore: 10K Genome Project
In 2000, the Genomic Institute of Singapore (GIS) was set up by the Singapore government to lead the development of genomic science locally. GIS then launched the “Singapore 10K Genome Project” in 2016 in view of the constraint that genomic profiles for clinical and research use has historically come from Western countries and individuals with European ancestry, data from individuals with Asian ancestry have been insufficient and underrepresented.
Through this pilot scheme, the GIS formed a large-scale genome database and formulated genomic profiles of three major ethnic groups – Chinese, Malay and Indian among Singapore’s citizens.
This project analysed data from 10,000 genome samples, including both patient cohorts and healthy cohorts free of major diseases. Data from this project benefits not only Singapore’s population, but also the medical research and development across Asia and Oceania.
Please click here for more details of the Project.
United States: All of Us Research Programme
The United States launched the “All of Us Research Programme” in 2018, a key element of its Precision Medicine Initiative.
“Precision medicine” is an approach to aid in the development of personalised care for patients by considering the differences in their genes, lifestyle and environment. It can take many years to understand the contribution of a single unique variable on a given disease or treatment. It will take even longer to devise new treatments and disease prevention methods. Through collecting data from more than one million people in the US, the aim of the All of Us Research Program is to accelerate the understanding of various diseases by analysing the differences in lifestyle, environment and biology of participants, uncovering paths towards delivering precision medicine.
Participants would be required to provide their biological samples, such as blood or urine samples, or allow access to electronic health records, enabling researchers to explore a variety of important health issues including precision medicine approaches in treating cancers and other diseases.
Please click here for more details of the Programme.