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New biobank could hold secret to anti-ageing

Report of a story in the news   |   By Rebecca Bazeley   |   Published 9 August 2011

Sources: Technology Review, Press release

The release of a new biobank of genetic and medical information could significantly aid our understanding of the genetic and environmental influences on health and ageing. US healthcare providers Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Francisco have completed the first phase of a project to collect and analyse the genomes of 100,000 people ranging in age from 18 to 107 (see previous news). 

As well as holding one of the most comprehensive sets of information available the Kaiser database is unusual in its focus on individual medical histories, rather than specific disease. Participant data such as blood-test results, prescriptions, and other conditions could help researchers draw a better picture of how genetics influences a broad range of disorders - for example, blood pressure and the effectiveness of medication. It also includes environmental data, such as air and water quality.

Cathy Schaefer, executive director of the Kaiser Permanente Program on Genes, Environment, and Health, and a co-leader on the project said: “we think some of the most interesting initial questions will relate to aging". The project has an average participant age of 65 and contains data from the worlds’ largest telomere study. Researchers will continue to follow participants as long as they continue to receive health care from Kaiser allowing them to examine, for example, how accurately telomere length can predict longevity or healthy ageing (see previous news). The database will soon be available to the wider scientific community.

Keywords: Genetic Databases

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