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Cambridge partnership boosts access to genetic testing

16 February 2016
CUH Addenbrooke’s and Cambridge start-up GeneAdviser have developed a new online service which makes the ordering of genetic tests quicker and easier.

GeneAdviser is an online marketplace for genetic testing, making it easier for doctors to order life-saving genetic tests from accredited laboratories. It replaces cumbersome paper-based ordering systems by allowing doctors to search, order and pay for genetic tests online, saving time and money for both referring doctors and hospital staff.

Dr Steve Abbs, CUH laboratory director, said: “GeneAdviser has great potential to streamline genetic testing, making it easier for doctors to find and order tests and easier for our lab to send results and take payments.

“As a world-leading genetic laboratory, we already provide genetic testing to doctors in 32 countries around the world. GeneAdviser will make it easier for doctors to order tests from us, allowing us to help more patients without increasing the administrative burden on my staff.

“This will reduce the costs associated with genetic testing and make tests more accessible, allowing us to diagnose more patients with genetic diseases.”

GeneAdviser was co-founded by two Cambridge University alumni. It has been supported in its first year by the Accelerate Cambridge program at Cambridge Judge Business School and by the Social Incubator East.

Co-founder and CEO Dr Jelena Aleksic said the aim is to reduce the barriers to access so that more patients can benefit from cutting-edge genetic diagnostic tests.

She said: “We hope to expand the pool of clinicians who use genetic testing in their practice. We can already see the power of a genetic diagnosis for people living with rare diseases, and this same technology has the potential to transform paediatrics, neurology and cancer medicine.”

“By giving more clinicians access to state-of-the-art genetic technologies more patients can get diagnostic answers.”

GeneAdviser aims to unify the genetic testing market in Europe, and will offer tests from public and private laboratories across the UK and abroad. The NHS regional genetics centre at CUH is their first laboratory partner and played a key role in developing the service.

Dr Aleksic said: “We worked closely with the CUH team to design a service that suits clinicians, and surveyed more than 1000 clinicians across Europe to identify the barriers they face in accessing genetic tests.”

Hanadi Jabado, executive director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at Judge Business School, said: “With GeneAdviser, Jelena has identified a great need and developed a business which will significantly impact the lives of rare disease patients by making genomic medicine widely accessible.”

GeneAdviser is now being supported by UK Trade & Investment’s Passport to Export program to advise and inform on internationalising the business.

CUH is a centre of excellence for medical genetics and rare cancer treatment. The genetic testing laboratory is part of the East Anglian Medical Genetics Service. The genetics laboratories offer chromosome and DNA analysis.

The laboratories at CUH are located within purpose built facilities, and are rapidly expanding with more than 60 staff consisting of clinical scientists, biomedical scientists, trainee scientists, genetic technologists and administration staff.