Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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25. To ask the Minister for Health the role of genomic medicine in Ireland; his plans for a national genomics strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11377/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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Genomics has transformed our understanding of disease and our ability to deliver care in a way that is more specific and personal to each individual patient. By establishing the sequence of an individual’s genetic material, it is possible to identify sequences or mutations which are specific to that person. Not only can these sequences identify the cause or stage of a disease, or the risk of future disease, they can also help predict the likely benefits or side effects of a particular medication. Genomics has the potential to reshape clinical practice and to fundamentally change the way we prevent, diagnose, treat and monitor illness, providing the opportunity to have more precise and tailored treatments for patients.

Ireland is well placed to utilise genomic data. Currently, there are a number of relevant genomic initiatives being developed in both the clinical and research arenas, and by public and private enterprise.

For example last year I authorised €2m in expenditure to establish a National COVID Biobank as part of our overall response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Biobanks are a crucial platform for the deployment of genomic medicine and our intention is to use this initiative to build a national approach to biobanking beyond the immediate need to respond to COVID.

These initiatives need to be co-ordinated within a broader strategic approach to the use of genomic medicine in Ireland. My Department will oversee the development of policy for genomic medicine within an ethical and legal framework which maximises potential health benefits while minimising potential harms.


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