In a groundbreaking development, UK Biobank has released a vast dataset from whole genome sequencing of half a million participants, a move poised to revolutionize medical research and treatment development. This unparalleled dataset available to approved researchers globally, excludes personal identifiers, ensuring participant privacy. This achievement follows five years of effort over 350,000 hours of genome sequencing and an investment exceeding £200 million.
UK Biobank, a charity established two decades ago, has been instrumental in creating the world’s most comprehensive health data source. Its extensive database enriched with 15 years of health, lifestyle, and biological data is now augmented with this genomic information offering researchers a unique opportunity to explore disease development and treatment.
Professor Sir Rory Collins, the principal investigator at UK Biobank, highlighted the significance of this dataset, noting its potential to transform global health research, diagnosis, treatment, and cure development. The dataset’s scale and depth combined with existing biometric and health data are expected to accelerate precision medicine, targeted drug discovery, and understanding of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Notably, the project received significant funding from Wellcome, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and major biopharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca, GSK, Amgen, and Johnson & Johnson. These collaborations emphasize the importance of public-private partnerships in advancing medical science.
The DNA sequencing completed by deCODE Genetics, Amgen’s subsidiary and the Wellcome Sanger Institute employed cutting-edge Illumina NovaSeq technology. The data is now accessible on the UK Biobank Research Analysis Platform hosted on Amazon Web Services and enabled by DNAnexus, marking a new era of global data accessibility for health research.
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