Genome British Columbia and Genomics England have extended their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The agreement was first signed in August 2015 as a means to improve diagnostic capability and outcomes for patients with cancer, rare diseases and infectious diseases.
Under the agreement, the two groups have worked together to develop opportunities aimed at sharing and co-developing information and tools, that serve as a mechanism for the international exchange of knowledge and data in the field of genomics.
One of the collaborations borne out of the agreement was an initiative between the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Oxford University and Public Health England (PHE) to explore ways to accelerate the use of genomics as a tool for the diagnosis, treatment and tracking of tuberculosis (TB).
The project pioneered efforts to validate the use of a genomic platform in a clinical setting through the development of user-friendly reports to assist doctors in faster and more effective diagnosis and treatment. This allows clinicians, many of whom have not worked with genomic data before, to quickly and easily find the information and get the interpretation they need to ensure a direct benefit for patients. The report developed, by Drs. Jennifer Gardy and Derrick Crook is now in use by FIND for reporting tuberculosis (TB) resistance. FIND is an international non-profit organization that enables the development and delivery of much-needed diagnostic tests for poverty-related diseases, including TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS, sleeping sickness, hepatitis C, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, Buruli ulcer, febrile illnesses and infectious diseases with outbreak potential, such as Ebola.
Another pilot project stemming from the partnership focuses on improving the diagnosis of rare diseases in children while furthering the discovery of new, novel diseases in BC and around the world.
The aim is to overcome challenges and enable the sharing of diverse medical information beyond data generated by WGS across boundaries. To effectively study rare disease conditions, Drs. Wyeth Wasserman and Allison Matthews at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute in collaboration with Genomics England are establishing ways to share clinical data such as results from x-rays or information from physical exams. Sharing this information in a standardized way, enables researchers to compare patients seen in different countries, by different doctors and still be confident that they are making a point-by-point comparison.
International partnerships, such as this help will help ensure best practices, leverage data sharing and clinical expertise, accelerating system uptake of validated expertise.