Many of the first healthcare professionals to use the tool will be those processing tumour samples for Genomics England’s 100,000 Genomes Project, which aims to analyse whole genome sequences from thousands of patients to develop a greater understanding of the basis of disease. The insights gained from the project will have a huge impact on histopathology.
Whole genome sequencing can only be successfully performed on DNA from tumour samples with a suitable percentage of tumour tissue and the minimum required amount of DNA. This new training tool will consist of four educational modules and one assessment module covering tumour assessment for whole genome sequencing and introducing one reliable method of assessing tumour samples in 3D. It is anticipated that histopathologists, clinical and biomedical scientists working in NHS Genomic Medicine Centres will be the first to use the tool.
Dr Verrill, who is the Lead for Molecular Pathology at the Oxford Genomic Medicine Centre, provides an introduction to the modules and the assessment model, explaining why there is a need for standardised training. Dr Verrill said: ‘Ultimately, the goal of this training tool is to help us deliver a better service to patients. If we can assess a tumour for genomic sequencing accurately and efficiently, we will ensure that as many eligible samples as possible are selected for DNA extraction and sequencing with minimal delay or errors.
‘And of course, the goal beyond that is that, in time, we will gain a much deeper understanding of cancer at a molecular level, to better inform our patients’ diagnosis, treatment and prognostic information.’
The tool will be launched by the Genomics Education Programme in spring 2017.