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12 September 2019Europe

UK govt invests in ‘world's largest’ genetics research project

The world's ”largest genetics project” to tackle deadly diseases was  launched yesterday, September 11, supported by funding from the UK government, charities and four pharmaceutical companies.

As part of the £200 million ($246.6 million) project, the genetic code of 500,000 volunteers will be examined and sequenced at the UK Biobank, a health resource.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Britain has a proud history of putting itself at the heart of international collaboration and discovery. Over 60 years ago, we saw the discovery of DNA in Cambridge by a team of international researchers and today we are going even further.

“Now we are bringing together experts from around the globe to work in the UK on the world’s largest genetics research project, set to help us better treat life-threatening illnesses and ultimately save lives.”

The UK government’s research and innovation agency, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and R&D lab and charity The Wellcome Trust both provided £50 million in funding.

Amgen, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson gave a combined amount of £100 million.

According to a  release from the UK Biobank, the addition of the whole genome sequence data from all 500,000 participants will “dramatically enhance the ability of the resource to support innovative and imaginative research”.

“In particular, it paves the way for personalised medicine, where individual treatments are based on a person’s genetic make-up and preventive steps can be taken to help those most at risk because of their genes,” said the UK Biobank.

At the end of March 2020, the four pharmaceutical companies will obtain access to the first tranche of sequence data. Nine months later, the data will be made available to all other approved researchers around the world.

The exclusive access period mirrors the arrangements that UK Biobank had with the exome sequencing project being undertaken by Regeneron in the US and other industry partners.

In January last year, LSIPR reported that Regeneron and a consortium of five other companies was to fund the generation of exome sequence data (which records all of the protein-coding genes in a genome) from 500,000 volunteers in the UK.

The first tranche of exome data on 50,000 participants is now being used in more than 100 research projects worldwide, said the UK Biobank.

Rory Collins, UK Biobank principal investigator, said: “We are delighted that government, charity and industry have come together to unleash the full potential of UK Biobank by supporting the sequencing of all the participants.”

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12 January 2018   Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has formed a consortium with five other companies to fund the generation of exome sequence data from 500,000 volunteers in the UK.
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11 December 2017   The UK government has announced a deal between the life sciences sector and the government, aimed at ensuring that the “next wave of breakthrough treatments” and innovative medical research and technologies are created in the country.

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Europe
12 January 2018   Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has formed a consortium with five other companies to fund the generation of exome sequence data from 500,000 volunteers in the UK.
Big Pharma
11 December 2017   The UK government has announced a deal between the life sciences sector and the government, aimed at ensuring that the “next wave of breakthrough treatments” and innovative medical research and technologies are created in the country.

More on this story

Europe
12 January 2018   Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has formed a consortium with five other companies to fund the generation of exome sequence data from 500,000 volunteers in the UK.
Big Pharma
11 December 2017   The UK government has announced a deal between the life sciences sector and the government, aimed at ensuring that the “next wave of breakthrough treatments” and innovative medical research and technologies are created in the country.