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  • Biobank Data made Available to Global Research Community

Biobank Data made Available to Global Research Community

Mar 20 2019 Read 301 Times

Health researchers can now access a vast tranche of new UK Biobank genetic data offering an unprecedented resource to enhance understanding of human biology and aid in therapeutic discovery.

The exome sequence data of 50,000 UK Biobank participants were generated at the Regeneron Genetics Center through a collaboration between UK Biobank, Regeneron (US) and GSK (UK) and are linked to detailed health records, imaging and other health-related data. Regeneron is also leading a consortium of biopharma companies (including Abbvie, Alnylam, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Biogen, Pfizer and Takeda) to complete exome sequencing of the remaining 450,000 UK Biobank participants by 2020. In addition, GSK has committed a £40 million investment to initiatives, such as UK Biobank, that harness advances in genetic research in the development of new medicines.

The incorporation of the data back into the UK Biobank is consistent with the founding principles of the project, following a brief exclusive research period for Regeneron and GSK. Additional tranches of data will similarly be released over the next two years. All sequencing and analyses activities are undertaken on a de-identified basis, with the utmost consideration and respect for participant privacy and confidentiality principles. As one of the most important studies of population health in the world, the initiative represents huge leverage of the public and charity investment that has supported UK Biobank up to this point; the costs of such a project would have been prohibitive had UK Biobank had to raise the funding itself.

Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the UK Medical Research Council, which has funded UK Biobank since its inception and continues to support enhancement activities, said it was very pleasing to see industry and academia tackling health research together. “UK Biobank was established to do science in new ways. Industry has led the way on this exome sequencing project and the fruits of that work mean UK Biobank can now deliver important genetic data that would otherwise not be available to researchers.”

Professor Sir Rory Collins, UK Biobank’s Principal Investigator, encouraged approved researchers to use the data. “We are excited about the possibilities of letting loose the imaginations of scientists from around the world on these large-scale genomic data linked to so much detailed information related to health in the 500,000 UK Biobank participants,” he said.

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