Supporting leading health research with Genome BC

February 02, 2016 – Genome British Columbia

VANCOUVER – Cutting-edge health research projects at Genome BC received a big boost with $34 million in government funding, Health Minister Terry Lake announced today.

“The research undertaken by Genome BC has a real impact for British Columbians,” said Premier Christy Clark. “From genome sequencing to quickly diagnose newborns with genetic disorders, to implementing genome testing to save people with lung cancer, HIV and other serious illnesses, our partnership with Genome BC has increased testing efficiency and helped save lives.”

This funding will support many new and ongoing projects at Genome BC that help improve patient care in B.C. Current research includes cancer projects in hereditary and childhood cancer; pharmacogenomics research into adverse drug interactions; infectious disease projects in areas such HIV, tuberculosis, Hepatitis C, and Avian flu; and rare diseases.

A key project being supported by the province is RAPIDOMICS, which uses genome sequencing to identify genetic disorders in newborns at BC Women’s Hospital.

“As we move forward with our comprehensive technology strategy, it’s clear that British Columbians continue to benefit from research going on right here at home,” said Lake. “With the advance of innovative genome sequencing technology, we’re on our way to finding answers to some of the most challenging situations parents may ever have to face: severe mysterydiseases in infants caused by genetic disorders.”

Currently, genetic disorders like neurological problems, acute metabolic collapse, and malformations are a leading cause of infant mortality and make up a large percentage of the patients in B.C. neonatal intensive care units (NICU). The genome sequencing under RAPIDOMICS could significantly speed up the time to get an accurate and rapid diagnosis for patients with these types of disorders.

“Rapid exome sequencing in the NICU could replace hundreds of different tests that are currently in use, and greatly enhance support for families at this very difficult time,” said Dr. Alan Winter, president & CEO of Genome BC. “Genome BC is in the business of solving problems impacting British Columbians. This project is an example of genomics enabling the precision and timeliness of patient diagnosis and management as well as reducing costs for the health care system.”

The $400,000 RAPIDOMICS project aims to introduce the use of rapid exome sequencing in the NICU, a technique for sequencing the protein-coding genes in a genome (known as the exome). The pilot will include exome sequencing of 25 trios (baby plus both parents). Initial results will be provided from the partner laboratory at the University of B.C. within five to seven days,

Ministry of Health
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect
Laura Heinze, Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)