The new molecular tests being developed will be used to deliver stratified medicine in a wide range of disease areas.

Stratified medicine is an approach that subdivides patients with a shared disease into groups based on their risk of the disease progressing or how they respond to treatment.

The MRC and EPSRC have supported six nodes led by the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham, in a bid to support molecular pathology.

Each node brings researchers, clinicians and industry together to develop molecular diagnostic tools to enable stratification in disease areas, including cancer, respiratory diseases, digestive disease, infections, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus.

The six nodes are said to collaborate with 20 industrial partners, comprising diagnostic and instrumentation companies and innovative technology and data SMEs.

The £2m is provided for Edinburgh-St Andrews consortium that will carry out research in the areas of molecular pathology, informatics and genome sciences. It will incorporate state-of-the-art genomic and epigenomic methods for diagnosis of acutely ill children and will develop liquid biopsies to manage cancer through analysis of circulating tumour DNA.

Around £3.4m fund will be used by the Glasgow Molecular Pathology Node to incorporate pathology, genomics and informatics.

The node, including University of Leicester, Loughborough University and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, are provided with £2.5m fund to develop breath analysis tests that use the same technology as that used to detect explosives in war zones.

With around £2.9m fund, Manchester node will develop biomarker based molecular pathology tests. The Newcastle node will involve in the development of new lab tests for rare and chronic diseases, with around £2.7m.

The Nottingham node will be provided about £2.4m to bring together informatics, computational modelling and molecular pathology to find new biomarkers for a range of diseases, specifically affecting the digestive and respiratory systems and the liver.

Image: Six UK universities to develop new molecular pathology tests to deliver stratified medicine in a wide range of disease areas. Photo: courtesy of Medical Research Council.