The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have funded six nodes that are focused on the development of diagnostic tools to enable stratification, in support of molecular pathology.

Led by the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham, the nodes will enable stratification in disease areas such as cancer, respiratory diseases, digestive disease, infections, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus.

UK life sciences minister George Freeman said: “This £16m investment will enhance our UK-wide capability to deliver 21st century diagnostics and complement initiatives such as the Precision Medicine Catapult Centre to make sure that ground-breaking medicines and technologies are adopted by the NHS and delivered to patients as quickly as possible.”

“This £16m investment will enhance our UK-wide capability to deliver 21st century diagnostics and complement initiatives.”

Under the £2m grant, the Edinburgh-St Andrews consortium for Molecular Pathology, Informatics and Genome Sciences will integrate advanced genomic and epigenomic methods for diagnosis of acutely ill children.

The consortium will develop liquid biopsies for managing cancer through analysis of circulating tumour DNA.

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A £3.4m grant provided to the University of Glasgow will support the development of a Glasgow molecular pathology node that will integrate pathology, genomics and informatics.

The £2.5m East Midlands Breathomics Pathology Node (EMBER) will help develop breath analysis tests to enable doctors to pick the best treatments for a range of conditions, including cancers, respiratory infections and diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Developed at a cost of £2.9m, the Manchester node will initially focus on creating tests to diagnose, pick the right treatment and assess the response to treatment for a range of inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and psoriasis.

The £2.7m Newcastle Proximity Laboratory node will focus on developing new lab tests for rare and chronic diseases and will also be involved in training the next generation of molecular pathologists who play critical role in the delivery of precision medicine.

The £2.4m Nottingham Molecular Pathology Node (NMPN) will combine informatics, computational modelling and molecular pathology to find new biomarkers for a range of diseases, particularly those affecting the digestive and respiratory systems and the liver.