The UK Biobank, a national health resource intended to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of serious and life-threatening illnesses (see previous news), has opened to researchers for the first time.
 
Following recruitment of 500,000 participants aged 40-69 between 2006 and 2010, the biobank now contains 20TB of data and 15 million biological samples, including clinical and lifestyle information plus blood, saliva and urine samples for each person. Participants will be followed over their lifetimes to examine changes in their health.
 
Genuine researchers from both the UK and abroad can now apply for access to the anonymised samples and data for health-related studies, and commercial, academic and public bodies around the world have apparently already expressed interest, as UK Biobank is the most comprehensive resource of this kind currently available.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “UK Biobank is a globally unique resource which places the UK at the forefront of the quest to understand why some people develop life-threatening diseases or debilitating conditions” 

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