Leamington Granddad first to help unlock the mysteries of DNA

John from Leamington Spa could help to unlock the mystery of why some people develop cancers and rare diseases. He is the first local patient to give his complete genetic code (known as a genome) as part of a ground breaking project at University Hospital, Coventry.

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) which runs University Hospital, Coventry and the Hospital of Cross in Rugby is recruiting patients, like John to the 100,000 Genomes Project. It aims to take samples from more than 70,000 NHS patients with cancer or rare diseases to sequence their genomes.

UHCW is one of 18 NHS Trusts across the region which have come together to form the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre (WMGMC) – one of 13 such collaborations in England which are delivering the initiative.

Genomes are found in every part of the human body and they are the genetic instructions that make every person different. Over 3 billion genetic letters are then sequenced – put into order – so scientists can eventually look for patterns and understand how disease works.

68-year-old John’s genome could help doctors unlock the mystery of why some people develop cancer and rare diseases and others don’t.

The proud Granddad, who was diagnosed with renal cancer in May, hopes that taking part in the ground breaking research will help future generations.

Sean James, Genomes Lead for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said: “I am delighted that our first patient has been recruited to the programme, John is helping to shape the future of healthcare. The 100,000 genomes project in Coventry is recruiting patients who have cancer or have rare diseases.

John’s donated a sample which was taken while he had an operation to remove his kidney.

He said: “I am more than happy to be on the genomes trial if it’s going to help people in the long run. It might not even help me but it might help my kids and grandkids and that’s worth it. They have taken a section of my kidney and they can get all of the data they can from it. I don’t have to do any more than what I have done."


To find more about the project go to www.genomicsengland.co.uk