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New Zealand Science Teacher


DNA data to be shared

Global Alliance aims to share medical results and boost medical progress

With the aim of ‘dramatically accelerating medical progress’, 60 countries have agreed to share anonymous DNA data from patients.

Scientists say the programme, which involves greater sharing of patient data, could unravel the biological bases of cancer and other diseases.  It is also hoped it will highlight the variable effects drugs have on different people.

Announced by The Wellcome Trust’s Sanger Institute, Cambridge, on June 5, 2013, the Global Alliance involves more than 60 leading institutes from countries including the UK, Europe, Asia and North America.

The Global Alliance has flagged it will also develop a system for ethics, privacy and technical issues involved in the programme, to ensure the collected anonymous data is used securely and effectively.

A potential challenge for the programme lies in developing a system that inspires patient confidence, while also remaining flexible enough to work with different levels of data access across the research field.

The project is spurred on by the increasingly low cost of DNA sequencing. Scientists say that this will soon lead to a flood of genetic information being available in separate databases and go untapped, unless it is shared across a simple and open platform.

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