reported on BBC Health. 
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Controversy, or not, over DNA mapping for cancer patients

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The Prime Minister will announce £100m has been set aside to fund this project. Sequencing the code produces a huge amount of data. Although the price is falling fast, it currently costs £5,000 to £10,000 - which explains why no country in the world has embarked on mass DNA mapping on this scale.

For existing patients, DNA mapping may lead to better targeting of medicines. The power of this type of genetic analysis was demonstrated earlier this year when a study of 2,000 breast cancers showed the cancer should be thought of as 10 completely separate diseases.  
Speaking ahead of the announcement David Cameron said: "By unlocking the power of DNA data, the NHS will lead the global race for better tests, better drugs and above all better care." 
"At the moment, these tests focus on diseases caused by changes in a single gene. This funding opens up the possibility of being able to look at the three billion DNA pieces in each of us so we can get a greater understanding of the complex relationship between our genes and lifestyle" said the Chief Medical Officer for England; Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The UK is part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium which is planning to sequence 50 different cancers and catalogue their different mutations.

Privacy campaigners are concerned that such a move could allow personal data to be passed on to private companies, such as insurance companies.  Ministers insist the project is for medical purposes only.

This research sounds amazing. This may enable prevention rather than cure which would benefit future generations. I can understand the concerns relating to release of private data and this may well have to be addressed in the future. However, in the interim it is good to see the government providing much needed funding.

Patricia Wakeford


Clinical negligence team

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