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Understanding the human genome is a critical factor that could improve and strengthen research capacity in Africa; especially Nigeria says the 54gene heritage study.
Africans are amongst one of the most genetically diverse subgroups in the world, yet are only investigated in 2 percent of genetic studies; a recent study has shown with 50 percent of the world’s genetic variations in Africa.
The heritage study seeks to bridge this gap by gaining knowledge on the genetic variations of Nigerians and the common diseases that affect them. 54gene is committed to improving research capacity in Africa and has established the first private Biobank for Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) in Nigeria.
“Understand variation in our country’s genetic profile and how that can lead to better treatment for Africans,” explaining Abasi Ene-Obong, the chief executive officer of 54gene, gave a welcoming address explaining the objective of the study.
The 54gene heritage study is a premier genomic study that seeks to understand the genome of Africans, however researchers and practitioners across Nigeria gathered for the inauguration of the research consortium.
Omolola Salako, consultant Radiation Oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, spoke on the evolution of medicine towards personalisation. Personalized care can only be provided if the genetic issues surrounding non-communicable diseases are better understood.
“If we understand this, we can begin to target solutions and interventions that increase access to accurate and quality healthcare,” she said.
Salako explained that the 54gene Heritage Study is a unique study that is set out to gather clinical and epidemiological data from patients with a wide range of diseases including; cancer, sickle cell, neurodegenerative, metabolic and cardiovascular.
Speaking on ethics, Sunday Omilabu, Vice Chairman, 54gene Advisory Committee, said research is designed and implemented in ways that generate knowledge, validity and integrity to improve health and well being.
The 54gene Heritage Study is currently being deployed in ten public hospitals across the six geo-political zones within Nigeria. Ene-Obong closed the workshop by stating: “If we find and understand the disease profile of our population, we can actually start policy planning and targeted drug development.”