Genomics plc to generate polygenic risk scores for Our Future Health

News – 10 October 2022
Our Future Health has agreed a partnership with Genomics plc to generate polygenic risk scores (PRS) for volunteers who join our programme.

This new partnership between Our Future Health and Genomics plc will play an important role in our aim to find new ways to prevent, detect and treat common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia and cancer.

How are polygenic risk scores used?

A polygenic risk score is an estimate of an individual’s genetic risk of a trait or disease, calculated by analysing their genetic information. Genomics plc will work with Our Future Health to calculate PRS for all volunteers using genotyping data that will be generated from their blood samples.

Polygenic risk scores may enable personalised approaches to prevention, and to healthcare in general. When integrated with family history, environmental and lifestyle risk factors for diseases, PRS-powered tests and tools can identify people at elevated risk of disease and match them to the right prevention, screening, or treatment pathways, with the aim of preventing disease altogether or catching it early when outcomes are better.

This partnership with Genomics plc will allow us to learn more about polygenic risk scores and how they can be used most effectively in combination with the established risk factors for each disease.

Personal feedback for volunteers

We plan to offer personal feedback to people taking part in Our Future Health if they wish to receive it and give their consent.  

Our Future Health and Genomics plc will work together to develop effective methods for delivering feedback, along with health and care representatives from across the UK, including the NHS. The approaches we take will also be co-designed with the public and our volunteers.  

Offering volunteers personal feedback could potentially allow them to take action that reduces their risk of disease. It will also generate evidence that helps us understand the impact of giving people personalised health and risk information, e.g. whether it has an impact on lifestyle change.  

Delivering on Our Genome UK commitments

We also expect that polygenic risk scores will be used in future research studies within Our Future Health, which could assess the clinical utility and impact of polygenic risk scores as risk profiling/screening tools or in clinical decision support algorithms. This will make an important contribution to Genome UK’s commitment to formulate a clear, evidence-based position on whether and how polygenic risk scores can be best utilised at scale in the NHS.

Dr Andrew Roddam, CEO and Joint Chief Investigator, Our Future Health: “We’re at an exciting moment for Our Future Health as we begin to invite millions of people to join the programme in four regions across the UK. We’re looking forward to working with Genomics plc to explore how PRS could be useful for the volunteers taking part in Our Future Health and in healthcare more widely. This partnership has the potential to teach us more about PRS and its potential role in the prevention and screening of diseases.”

Professor Sir Peter Donnelly FRS, FMedSci, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Genomics plc: “Today, millions of people spend many years of their life in poor health and too often we treat diseases only when patients start showing symptoms. Identifying these patients and getting them onto the right prevention, screening, and care pathways can help us to prevent disease or catch it early, allowing the NHS to improve outcomes and use resources more efficiently. We know that polygenic risk scores can be a huge help with this, but for them to be most effective we must learn about how best to use them – the best way to provide them to individuals and doctors, and how to integrate them into current practice most efficiently. This partnership with Our Future Health will enable us to do that, and I am incredibly excited to get started.”

Learn more
Read more about our partners and collaborators.
Members of the public can now join Our Future Health