Finland launches global genome data research project

Finland launches global genome data research project
Genome © National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) - Darryl Leja, NHGRI. CC BY 2.0

FinnGen, a unique study that combines genome information with digital healthcare, has been launched by researchers in Helsinki, Finland.

The FinnGen study plans to analyse up to 500,000 unique blood samples collected by a nationwide network of Finnish biobanks.

The goal is to deepen the understanding of the origins of diseases and their treatment.

Finland’s population (just 5.5 million) shares a unique genetic heritage, which provides researchers with enormous opportunities to innovate.

Due to their heritage, genomic data can be analysed faster and more effectively than in populations of more heterogenous origins, significantly improving the chances of breakthrough findings.

The FinnGen study is co-ordinated by researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital.

In addition to biobanks and research organisations, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes) and seven international pharmaceutical companies are taking part in the study: Abbvie; AstraZeneca; Biogen; Celgene; Genentech, a member of the Roche Group; Merck & Co., US; and Pfizer.

Two thirds of the project funding is expected to come from pharmaceutical companies and one-third from Tekes.

Minna Hendolin, who is responsible for health and wellbeing at Tekes, said: “Tekes wanted to support the project, because of its potential to promote healthcare innovation and to support the growth and internationalisation of local businesses.”

The FinnGen study has the potential to benefit global healthcare systems long into the future.

Finland tops global listings in healthcare, education, innovation, digitalisation and good governance.

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