The London 2012 anti-doping facilities will be developed after the Olympic and Paralympic Games into a world-class resource that could help revolutionise healthcare. The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre will use the cutting edge facilities developed for London 2012 to help develop better and more targeted treatment for patients.
The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind in the world, 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. Phenome analysis has already been used to ‘tailor’ cancer treatment to suit individual patients by, for example, minimising the toxicity and maximising the efficiency of drug treatments for colon cancer.
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) and 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.
The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre will enable the UK to make its world-class phenotyping technology and expertise available to both researchers and the life sciences industry to accelerate the translation of medical discoveries into better healthcare. The new 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).
Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC, said:
“The UK has an extremely strong life sciences capability and world-class expertise in this area of research. The GSK drug-testing facility at Harlow has taken one of the major challenges associated with this type of research – achieving high-throughput alongside forensic quality control – to a new level, unprecedented anywhere in the world. Rather than losing this investment once the Games are over the collaboration – involving the MRC, NIHR, UK universities, the NHS and NIHR Biomedical Research Centres, and industry leaders in the field – will provide a unique resource that will ultimately result in benefits for patients. This is a phenomenal legacy from the Games.”