UK launches tumour screening programme
Cancer Research UK has started recruiting patients in the first phase of its Stratified Medicine Program, which is seeking to find cancer biomarkers and establish a genetic testing service in the U.K. The charity's multi-million pound Stratified Medicine Programme ultimately aims to establish a world-class NHS genetic testing service for cancer patients in the UK. The first phase will screen tumour samples from up to 9,000 patients with melanoma, breast, bowel, lung, prostate or ovarian cancer. It is funded by a EUR 6m contribution from the charity and industry partners, AstraZeneca plc and Pfizer Inc. Patients will be asked to give consent for a small sample of their tumour to be sent to one of three leading NHS genetic testing labs - based at The Institute for Cancer Research in London, Cardiff All Wales Regional Molecular Genetics Laboratory and the West Midlands Regional Genetics Laboratory in Birmingham - where DNA will be extracted and analysed for a range of molecular faults linked to cancer. The first phase is destined for completion in 2013. The initiative is closely aligned with the government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB)'s EUR 7m investment in the development of tests for analysing a tumour's genetic profile and secure software that can link this information to relevant clinical information. During the second phase, the charity plans to work with the U.K. Department of Health to develop a national system of genetic testing within the National Health Service (NHS). Cancer Research announced plans for the programme last year.