Chinese, U.S. and Britain scientists on Tuesday launched the 1000 Genomes Project, with the aim to promote research on human diseases.
The project will involve sequencing the genomes of at least 1,000 people from around the world to create the most detailed and medically useful picture to date of human genetic variation.
It will receive major support from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England, the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) Shenzhen, China and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Drawing on the expertise of multidisciplinary research teams, the 1000 Genomes Project will develop a new map of the human genome that will provide a view of biomedically relevant DNA variations at a resolution unmatched by current resources.
Using the map, scientists will work out detail information on genome containing genetic variants that are associated with risk of common human diseases, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, prostate and breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and age-related macular degeneration.
The new map would enable researchers to more quickly zero in on disease-related genetic variants, speeding efforts to use genetic information to develop new strategies for diagnosing, treating and preventing common diseases.
The scientific goals of the 1000 Genomes Project are to produce a catalog of variants that are present at 1 percent or greater frequency in the human population across most the genome, and down to 0.5 percent or lower within genes. This will likely entail sequencing the genomes of at least 1,000 people.
These people will be anonymous and among the populations whose DNA will be sequenced in the 1000 Genomes Project include Yoruba in Ibadan, Nigeria; Japanese in Tokyo; Chinese in Beijing; Toscani in Italy; Gujarati Indians in Houston; and people of African ancestry in the southwestern United States.
"At 6 trillion DNA bases, the project will generate 60-fold more sequence data over its three-year course than have been deposited into public DNA databases over the past 25 years," said Gil McVean, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford in England, one of the co-chairs of the consortium's analysis group.
"This project reinforces our commitment to transform genomic information into tools that medical research can use to understand common disease," said Jun Wang, associate director of BGI.
"It will benefit all nations by creating a valuable resource for researchers around the globe," he added.
(Xinhua News Agency January 23, 2008)