Survey: genetic diagnostics roaring ahead

​The use of genetic analyses is increasing rapidly. A new survey shows that genetic analyses are being used for diagnostic evaluation, diagnostics and research projects in 22 out of 30 specialist areas at Rigshospitalet.

The need for genetic analyses is increasing significantly. In order to develop new and better treatment options for patients, today experts often find the cause of the disease using genetic analyses, and then customise treatment for the individual patient. 

Rigshospitalet's early focus on genetic diagnostics in research and patient treatment seems to have paid off. A survey of Rigshospitalet departments shows that use of genetic analyses is increasing rapidly and is already benefitting a wide range of the hospital's patients. Almost half of the departments are using genetic analyses in order to provide more individual treatment of, for example, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, dementia, migraine, back disorders, cystic fibrosis and liver diseases. The survey shows that more than half of the departments are currently conducting research projects in which genetic analyses constitute a key part of the data material.
At speciality level, analyses of patients' genetic material are already being used to ensure individually customised treatment within 22 of 30 specialist areas at Rigshospitalet.

Close to patients

Rigshospitalet's strength is the clinical dialogue on how best to use genetic analyses to develop patient treatment. This is stressed by Bettina Lundgren, Centre Director of the Centre of Diagnostic Investigation and responsible for Rigshospitalet's strategic focus on personalised medicine.

"We use both simple and complex genetic analyses for diagnostics and research. The goal is for genetic analyses to be used to improve and customise treatment for the individual patient," said Bettina Lundgren. 

At the Centre of Diagnostic Investigation, where most genetic analyses are conducted, 126,000 genetic analyses were carried out to diagnose patients in 2017.

National venture

In late May, the Act on the establishment of a National Genome Centre was adopted by the Danish Parliament (the Folketing), thereby establishing the framework for better national use of personalised medicine in Denmark.

According to Per Jørgensen, Assistant Director, Rigshospitalet is well prepared for exploiting the opportunities in structuring the use of genetic analyses at national level. 

"As Denmark's highly specialised hospital, we've a huge responsibility to support the national work on developing personalised medicine based on modern genetic diagnostics. Our departments have taken the lead in both research and use of genetic diagnostics, and patients are already benefitting from our efforts," said Per Jørgensen.

Interest in whole genome analyses

Over the last decade, genetic diagnostics have evolved towards even greater analyses that can tell us something about the relationship between genes and disease. Rigshospitalet now has equipment to conduct their own whole genome analyses of the entire human genetic material. The survey shows that 20 out of 49 departments have either already started using whole genome analyses or are planning to do so.

Responsible editor