After the Olympic and Paralympic Games the London 2012 anti-doping facilities will be developed into a world-class resource that could help revolutionise healthcare. The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind in the world, will use the cutting edge facilities developed for the 2012 Games to help develop better and more targeted treatment for patients.
The centre will enable researchers to explore the characteristics of disease in order to develop new drugs and treatments for patients.
A phenome describes a person’s chemistry – all the molecules in their blood, urine or tissues – that are the result of their genetics and their lifestyle. This mixture of molecules is changing all the time and is influenced by factors such as diet, environment and even stress levels. It is linked to how a person responds to disease or to treatments such as drugs.
Researchers at the centre will investigate the phenome patterns of patients and volunteers by analysing samples – usually blood or urine – very rapidly and on an unprecedented scale. This will help them to discover new ‘biomarkers’ to explain why one individual or population may be more susceptible to a disease than another. This knowledge will aid scientists in finding new, safer and more targeted treatments.
The new centre will be funded over five years by an investment of £5 million each from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Department of Health’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It will build on and develop the state-of-the-art equipment and expertise of the London 2012 anti-doping facilities provided by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and operated by King’s College London.
With a proven track record in world-leading analytical techniques, King’s College London researchers will focus on targeted metabolite analysis by mass spectrometry. By taking advantage of recent advances in molecular research tools, sensor technologies, 'omics' platforms, and bioinformatics the King’s team will provide a deeper understanding of the phenome, ie the sum of phenotypic traits characterising the individual. The aim is to deliver access to a world-class capability that will benefit the whole UK biomedical community.
Chris Mottershead, Vice Principal for Research and Innovation at King’s College London, said: “Understanding how our environment influences health and causes disease is hugely important, and we are delighted to play an integral role in the development of the MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, which will work closely with our NIHR Biomedical Research Centre as they develop exciting new diagnostics and therapies.”
Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said: “This research centre will transform our understanding of people’s physical characteristics and disease, and enable us to pull through these discoveries into real benefits for patients. The advances that will be made by the researchers will help develop new treatments, including treatments specially tailored for the individual. This has the potential to revolutionise the way in which we treat a wide-range of diseases.”
The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre will be led by a collaboration of academic partners, led by Imperial College London, and the suppliers of nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry equipment (Bruker and Waters Corporation).
The full MRC-NIHR press release is available at the Department of Health website media centre.
Posted on Friday 10th August 2012