California to launch genetic health database for 100,000 people

California is planning the launch of a genetic database for 100,000 elderly residents in two years, an effort that will help researchers investigate genetic causes of disease.

California is planning the launch of a genetic database for 100,000 elderly residents in two years, the largest effort ever to pool genetic information for this diverse a group.

The database will help researchers investigate genetic causes of disease, reports Technology Review.

Existing saliva samples taken from California patients with an average age of 65 will be used. That DNA will be analyzed for 700,000 genetic variations called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, using array analysis by Affymetrix in Santa Clara, Calif.

The National Institutes of Health will make that information available to other researchers. It will also make available patient data from the electronic health records of healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente, in addition to information about their lifestyles and air and water quality in their neighborhoods.

Scientists hope that the database can be used to determine the genetic factors that correspond to heart disease and diabetes, as well as look into the possibility of designing drugs for particular genetic profiles. The data is also useful for studying aging.

Kaiser Permanente hopes to expand the project with the data of 500,000 patients by 2013. The future problem: working together with other small biobanks to leverage the power of all this collected data.

The effort is thanks in part to $25 million from the National Institutes of Health and involves researchers from the University of California, San Francisco.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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