New genomics laboratory hub for the North East

Genetic testing for people in Yorkshire and the North East is set to be transformed following the announcement of a new genomics laboratory hub for the region.

A major new partnership will provide the new laboratory hub, which will be at the centre of a network made up of NHS organisations in the area, including Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the Sheffield Teaching and Children’s Hospitals.

Known as the Yorkshire and North East Genomic Laboratory Hub, it is one of seven newly commissioned genomic laboratory hubs across the country, announced by NHS England, and will form one of the largest providers of genomic testing in the UK. As such, it will focus on delivering a range of specialised neurology, musculoskeletal, gastro-hepatology, respiratory and haematology services in Sheffield, inherited cancers, specialist genetic testing and next generation sequencing in Leeds and genome sequencing for mitochondrial conditions in Newcastle.

The national hub and network model will not only improve patient access for genetic testing, but will also support the development of more personalised healthcare, as well as consolidating tests across the three sites making more efficient use of resources whilst not affecting the diagnostic pathway.

Professor Sir John Burn, Chairman for the Newcastle Hospitals, said: "I am delighted that Newcastle Hospitals will hold the contract for the Genomics Laboratory Hub across Yorkshire & Humber, North East and Cumbria. The partnership across Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle forms the foundation for a closer working relationship between our three cities across the NHS and academia, and is an exciting venture for us all. Our model ensures delivery of services across all three sites with the high throughput laboratory hosted in Leeds, as well as expert interpretation and specialised testing spread across the three hospital centres: Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle.

“It’s worth remembering Leeds and Newcastle were the first two centres to introduce "next generation" sequencers into diagnostics a decade ago and successfully shared samples to improve efficiency through the GenLYNC consortium, created as part of our LIFE Genetic Knowledge Park 15 years ago.”

Genetic testing can be used to find out whether or not a person has inherited a specific altered gene (genetic mutation) that causes a particular medical condition. Testing usually involves having a blood or tissue sample taken. The sample will consist of cells containing a person’s DNA.

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