RGC, UK Biobank and GSK launch new initiative to improve disease diagnosis


Regeneron Genetics Center (RGC), UK Biobank and GSK have launched a gene sequencing initiative on the world's detailed health database.

The initiative expects to deliver first data from the 500,000 volunteer participants in the UK Biobank resource within a year and is set to improve drug discovery and disease diagnosis.

The genetic sequence data generated through the initiative will enable researchers to gain insights to support advances in the development of new medicines for various life threatening diseases.

UK Biobank, which has been collecting information and samples from its 500,000 participants for the past ten years, ensures that data provided to health researchers does not identify them.

UK Biobank principal investigator Rory Collins said: "Genetics research is already shaping better treatments. This exciting initiative is expected to start producing novel findings rapidly during this year and will make UK Biobank even more useful for health-related research.

"This exciting initiative is expected to start producing novel findings rapidly during this year and will make UK Biobank even more useful for health-related research."

"UK Government and charity medical research funders have invested about £200m in UK Biobank. The costs of gene sequencing are falling, but doing it on a large scale involves highly specialised capabilities and is expensive, with an estimated cost of $150m if all 500,000 participants are sequenced."

An initial investment proposed by RGC and GSK will enable the sequencing of the first 50,000 samples to be completed before the end of this year.

UK Biobank's samples will be sequenced at the RGC facility.

The total 500,000 samples sequencing in UK Biobank is expected to take three to five years to complete.

In order to be consistent with the founding principles of UK Biobank, the sequence data will be incorporated back into its resource following a standard exclusivity period for GSK and Regeneron.

The RGC is currently sequencing at a rate exceeding 150,000 individuals per year and has applied large-scale human genetics to discover new drug targets and validate existing development programmes.