The world’s largest project to investigate how genes and lifestyle combine to cause common diseases has received the go-ahead to proceed in full.
Organisers of the UK’s “Biobank” project will now begin recruiting the half a million citizens aged between 40 and 69 they need for the project – about 1% of the UK population.
Full approval for the project was given on 22 August by the UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, which are funding the £61-million project. It follows the success of a three-month pilot project in Manchester involving 3800 participants, which received glowing reviews from an independent international panel.
Each volunteer participating will donate small samples of urine and blood, containing their DNA, for indefinite storage in the “bank”, which will be based in Manchester. They will also respond to detailed questionnaires about their lifestyle, health and environment.
By following all participants until their death, researchers hope to identify the genetic and lifestyle factors which may have contributed to any illnesses they suffered. If genes linked to disease can be identified, it might be possible to prevent illness in carriers of the gene by altering their lifestyles, for example.
August 22, 2006
BioBank gets go-ahead
The New Scientist reports: