Translational Genetics Laboratory

Professor Nazneen Rahman

Genetic testing is a powerful new tool that will transform the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Help us bring the latest genetic tests into clinical practice.

The new Translational Genetics Laboratory will allow patients like Clare to benefit from the latest genetic tests, enabling us to better diagnose their cancer and to develop more personalised and effective treatment plans. This project is being led by Professor Nazneen Rahman (pictured above).

In 2014, the TGL completed a six-month pilot of a new ‘oncogenetic’ pathway which aimed to make genetic testing more accessible to patients. It proved to be faster and less costly than standard pathways. More than 100 patients benefited from BRCA1 and BRCA1 gene tests during the pilot, and many more will soon benefit as this clinical testing pathway is rolled out to other hospitals.

The work of the Translational Genetics Laboratory complements that of Dr David Gonzalez de Castro at the Centre for Molecular Pathology. While David’s team is looking at the molecular composition of cancer cells within tumours, Nazneen’s work focuses on the individual and their overall genetic makeup – how the genes they have inherited from their parents may predispose them to certain types of cancer and influence their treatment.

More access to genetic testing

At present, access to genetic tests is very restricted due to their high costs and the long time needed to produce results. This is set to change dramatically though, with new advances in DNA sequencing technology. These vital tests used to take months and cost thousands of pounds, but they now cost a fraction of that amount and can be completed in a single day. It’s as if we are now able to fly whereas previously we could only walk.

By making this technology available at The Royal Marsden, your support is enabling more patients to benefit from these pioneering genetic tests as an essential element of their diagnosis.

Initially, the Translational Genetics Laboratory is focusing on breast and ovarian cancer patients, as these types of cancer are known to have a high prevalence of causal genes that determine effective treatment. However, our aim is for all patients at The Royal Marsden to receive a genetic test as part of their diagnosis, and we expect this to be possible within the next three years.

Your support

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity donated £1.16 million to fund the establishment of the Translational Genetics Laboratory.

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“Genetic testing will help us develop personalised and more effective treatment for cancer patients.”
– Professor Nazneen Rahman

Amount donated by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity