UK to Sequence Genome of 100,000 Patients

January 1, 2013

Science

The United Kingdom will sequence the whole genomes of 100,000 people with cancer and rare diseases. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy/Office of Biological and Environmental Research

The United Kingdom will sequence the whole genomes of 100,000 people with cancer and rare diseases. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy/Office of Biological and Environmental Research

The UK has planned to fully sequence the genome of 100,000 Britons with cancer and rare diseases in an effort to decode their DNA, and hopefully find a cure for diseases. The project is unusual because it will decode the entire genome, not just parts of it.

Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that the government’s National Health Service (NHS) has earmarked £100 million to the effort, which is part of the £600 million announced for research in the coming years. The sequencing program is expected to take between 3 to 5 years.

The effort joins many sequencing projects and biobanks across Europe. In March, the UK opened its first biobank of 500,000 people that includes health information and blood samples. In February, Norway announced plans to sequence the tumor genomes of 1,000 cancer patients.

There are other genome sequencing projects underway, but this project is much more far-reaching in terms of scale and scope. The biggest challenge for the UK venture will be converting massive amounts of DNA data generated into usable information.

For now, there are only a few individuals that have directly benefited from having their full genomes sequenced. Most of these involve rare diseases.

[via ScienceNOW]

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