12.11.2018 change 12.11.2018

A genomic map of Poland will be created; recruitment in December

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

In December we will start recruitment for the development of the genomic map of Poland, in which the genome of 5,000 people will be tested - President of the DNA Research Center Jacek Wojciechowicz announced at a meeting with journalists in Warsaw.

"This is the first such Polish project from the borderline of genetics, bioinformatics and medicine" - said the specialist. It will consist in the sequencing of the entire genome, reading the order of nucleotide pairs in DNA. "The human genome contains more than 3 billion base pairs, but only some of them, mere 2%, are sequences coding 20,000 to 25,000 genes" - explained Jacek Wojciechowicz.

The project will include 5,000 Poles. Recruitment for this study will start in the beginning of December 2018. Based on the collected data on the DNA of these people, researchers will prepare a map of genetic variation of Poles and a reference genome of our countrymen (the most desirable genome, free from dangerous mutations).

Dr. Piotr Łukasiak from the Poznan University of Technology believes that comparing the reference genome with the DNA of a particular patient will facilitate diagnosing and selection of appropriate treatment. "Some people metabolise drugs differently and require higher doses for the treatment to be effective" - Wojciechowicz added.

The project will be implemented by the consortium European Center for Bioinformatics and Genomics (ECBiG), which includes the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry PAS, Poznan University of Technology and the DNA Research Center (a subsidiary Inno-Gene S.A.). The total value of the project is estimated at PLN 105 million.

Similar projects have been carried out for many years in other European countries and in the United States. Data presented during the press conference show that in the United Kingdom the research has covered 100,000 people since 2012. In Iceland, all the inhabitants of this country have been tested. Genomes are also analysed in Germany and Estonia.

"In our country, we have one of the highest genetic diversities in Europe, which makes our research unique" - emphasized Wojciechowicz. In his opinion, this is due to the fact that our country was exposed to numerous wars and migrations of the population, which led to the mixing of many groups.

The President of the DNA Research Center assures that the results of genome testing of individual people who agree to participate will be anonymous and adequately protected. This means that no personal data of the subjects will be made available to anyone. Genome testing involves taking a blood sample, the most preferred are people aged 25-55.

"In return for sharing their DNA for testing, volunteers will get full sequencing of their genome" - emphasised the specialist. This will allow to determine what mutations they have and which diseases they may be more exposed to. Participants will also find out where their distant ancestors came from.

Genome can be sequenced to order, privately. Such services are offered for several thousand dollars are by companies from China. Jacek Wojciechowicz warns, however, that there is no guarantee as to how the data obtained in this way are used. No one has ever done such tests in Poland.

The specialist admits that data on the genome of Poles who will take part in the project will also be made commercially available to companies, mainly pharmaceutical ones, and for scientific research. The interest in these data is huge.

During the meeting, it was reported that in 2012, Amgen paid $415 million for the DeCode database from Iceland. In turn, in 2015, 23andMe sold a database of 800 thousand patients for 60 million dollars. The same company signed similar agreements with 10 pharmaceutical companies.

According to Wojciechowicz, in the future, genome sequencing will be common, because it will become much cheaper, it will probably cost 100 dollars. This means that even in screening tests genome sequencing can replace the currently performed genetic tests, those used in Poland to detect cystic fibrosis or phenylketonuria. (PAP)

Autor: Zbigniew Wojtasiński

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