Filling In The Gaps Of Asia’s Genetic Map

The early findings by the GenomeAsia 100K consortium shed light on the ancestral origins of Asia’s populations and provide insight into adverse drug responses among Asians.

AsianScientist (Jan. 14, 2020) – An international team of scientists has sequenced the genomes of almost 2,000 Asians to find clues about Asian ancestry, health and disease. Their findings are published in Nature.

Despite forming over 40 percent of the world’s population, Asian people have previously accounted for only six percent of the world’s recorded genome sequences.

To raise the representation of Asian genomes in biomedical studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore—together with Macrogen, South Korea; Genentech, US; and MedGenome, India/US—launched the GenomeAsia 100K consortium in 2016. The consortium aims to understand the genome diversity of Asian ethnicities by sequencing 100,000 genomes of people living in Asia.

“GenomeAsia 100K is a significant and far-reaching project that will affect the well-being and health of Asians worldwide,” said NTU Professor Stephan C. Schuster, the consortium’s scientific chairman and a co-leader of the study.

In the present study, the researchers analyzed the genomes of 1,739 people, which represents the widest coverage of genetic diversity in Asia to date. Genomic DNA was extracted from blood and saliva samples, then sequenced in the laboratories of the four consortium members. The digital sequencing data were subsequently sent to Singapore for processing and storage.

The team reported that the frequencies of known genetic variants related to adverse drug response to Warfarin, a common anticoagulant drug prescribed to treat cardiovascular diseases, were higher in individuals with North Asian ancestry, such as Japanese, Korean, Mongolian or Chinese.

Using this data, scientists can now screen populations to identify groups that are more likely to have a negative predisposition to a specific drug. Knowing a person’s population group and their predisposition to drugs is extremely important if personalized medicine is to work, Schuster emphasized.

In addition, the researchers discovered that Asia has at least ten ancestral lineages, whereas northern Europe has a single ancestral lineage. Moving forward, the GenomeAsia 100K consortium will continue to collect and analyze up to 100,000 genomes from all of Asia’s geographic regions to fill in the gaps of the world’s genetic map and to account for Asia’s unexpected genetic diversity.

The article can be found at: GenomeAsia100K Consortium (2019) The GenomeAsia 100K Project Enables Genetic Discoveries Across Asia.


Source: Nanyang Technological University; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist