AsianScientist (Feb. 18, 2016) – A non-profit consortium called GenomeAsia 100K has announced an ambitious plan to sequence 100,000 Asian individuals in hopes of accelerating precision medicine applications for Asian populations.
It will also leverage on big data analytics and advances in data science and artificial intelligence. Participants from 12 South Asian countries and at least seven North and East Asian countries will be selected.
In the first phase, the project will focus on creating phased reference genomes for all major Asian ethnic groups—representing a major step forward in understanding the population history and substructure of the region.
The sequencing of 100,000 individual genomes will be paired with microbiome, clinical and phenotype information to allow deeper analysis of diseased and healthy individuals in the context of inferred local ancestries.
With recent insights into the genome diversity of Asian ethnicities, it will become possible to understand the biology of disease in the currently under-studied Asian populations that represent 40 percent of humankind.
Furthermore, the unique genetic diversity prevalent in South, North and East Asia provides a valuable source of clinical insights that should enhance our understanding of several rare and inherited diseases, as well as chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Professor Stephan Schuster of Nanyang Technological University will serve as scientific chairman and Professor Seo Jeong-Sun, director of Genomic Medicine Institute at Seoul National University and Chairman of Macrogen will serve as co-Scientific Chairman (North and East Asia) of the consortium. Mahesh Pratapneni, CEO of Emerge Ventures, will act as executive chairman.
“Advances in sequencing, computing and mobile access mandates that we begin to study these underrepresented Asian populations,” Schuster said.
“Our research experience in Korean reference genome construction and Northeast Asian population genetics will ensure that this consortium is successful,” said Seo.
Professor Bertil Andersson, president of NTU, believes that a greater understanding of the Asian population’s genomes could lead to better healthcare discoveries in the future.
“The human genome is extremely important because they play a big part in the diseases that affect all of us, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With almost all current personal genomics efforts concentrating on populations in the western world, the new consortium will benefit the Asian population as it sheds light on the genetic fabric of Asians,” Andersson said.
Supporters of the initiative include genomics companies Macrogen and MedGenome, as well as life sciences company Illumina. The consortium is now actively seeking additional founding members and scientific collaborators.
Source: Emerge Ventures; Photo: Shutterstock.
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