Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business, shares his views on why London is leading the way in Genomics.
Until recently it took around 13 years to read someone’s entire genetic code. Today, it can be done in just two days. Genome sequencing – analysing the 3.2 billion letters of your DNA – is increasingly a vital part of developing drugs and treatments in our universities and research institutes.
As London’s Deputy Mayor for Business – and a tech entrepreneur myself – it’s hugely exciting to see world-leading research in this field coming out of institutes such as the Institute of Cancer Research and Genomics England, putting London firmly on the map as a place where innovation thrives and patient care benefits. Home to three Genomics Medicine Centres – at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust – London also seamlessly combines academia, industry and the NHS to ensure scientific development isn’t limited to the lab, but is also translated into the real-world.
One particularly interesting project is the ground-breaking East London Genes & Health study, which is analysing the health of the local Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. This has never been done on this scale before, and will help us to understand more about common diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
London is one point of the world-leading life sciences ‘Golden Triangle’, together with Cambridge and Oxford. Oxford, home to The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, and Cambridge, location of the largest Biomedical Campus in Europe, are both also great centres of innovative research with global reputations.
This £1 billion industry contributes to the capital’s economic growth and development, and helps to support our ambition to make London the healthiest global city. Truly life changing innovations from DNA Electronic’s rapid direct-from-specimen test for bloodstream infections that lead to sepsis, to Vertex’s new medicines for cystic fibrosis, can all contribute to making this a reality.
From the discovery of the double helix structure of the DNA through to the pioneering 100,000 Genomes Project, the UK has long been at the forefront of healthcare innovation. There is no better time for our colleagues from across the globe to collaborate with the wealth of industry and academia in the region, to drive forward discoveries and translate them into life-changing drugs and treatments.