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Last sample collected for one of the world's 'deepest' biobanks

Montreal, October 22, 2010 This week, the last questionnaire was filled out and the final vial of blood was drawn, closing CARTaGENE's first ambitious goal of collecting samples and data from 20 000 Quebecers. With this last recruit, the CARTaGENE Universit of Montral research project has emerged as one the world's most comprehensive and powerful resources for providing an epidemiological snapshot of the health of its participants. This biobank data will be available as a resource to researchers worldwide and will provide greater insight into chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

"We are extremely pleased that we've met this milestone and are grateful to all the participants who contributed to our project," says Philip Awadalla, CARTaGENE Scientific Director and a professor at the Universit of Montral. "Although there are few biobanks that are larger, ours is the first of its size to collect such extensive data for every participant, which makes it a very valuable scientific resource. In addition the CARTaGENE database is unique in that all the samples were collected the same way and that all the recruits went through the same interviews. This consistency is essential to making it such a precious resource. Data captured from this snapshot of the Quebec population gathered information from participants of many ethnic backgrounds. In addition, the unique French-Canadian population allows scientists to evaluate the impact of genealogies on health. We have already had requests for CARTaGENE data, a testimony to the database's value."

"The success of this first phase is an indicator of society's interest in knowledge," adds Guy Rouleau, Co-Principal Investigator, a Universit de Montral professor, and director of the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center. "This database provides information on many of the principle determinants of health, such as the impact of lifestyle, genetics, environment and nutrition. Such a resource will allow physicians and scientists to better determine how to prevent disease and promote health. "

Sampling from the middle-aged population

The objective of CARTaGeNE was to create a public resource for research projects. Individuals aged 40 to 69 living in Montreal, Sherbrooke, Saguenay (Chicoutimi) and Quebec City metropolitan areas - were targeted. The information from the 20 000 participants will provide an accurate portrait of the Quebec metropolitan population's health and genetic diversity.

Participants were asked to complete a health questionnaire and interview with a nurse, and to give samples of urine, serum and blood. A small fraction of the samples will be used for initial analyses but most will be stored in the GQ-CAURC Biobank. Physical measurements, such as weight, waist and hips circumference, bone density, arterial pressure and stiffness were also taken. Participants were also invited during the consent process to indicate if they wanted to be contacted again or if they wish to participate in the CARTaGENE genealogical option by answering another questionnaire at home. Bartha Knoppers, a McGill University Professor of Medicine and Director of the HumGen project, and Claude Laberge, a University of Laval Genetics professor were the the original principal investigators of the project and are members of the CARTaGENE team.

"Our next steps are to enhance the data," says Awadalla. "Working with our sister biobanks across Canada, we are following up participants to evaluate individual lifestyle impacts on health such as nutrition, residential and occupational history. We are also exploring how environment impacts how individuals genes are regulated, and the impact of this variation on chronic disease."

Randomly recruiting participants is key to understanding how the genome of each human being interacts with the environment to determine ones health status. The science of genomics is devoted to studying genomes and their interaction with environmental factors that influence our health. CARTaGENE is the largest project to date on the genome of the population of Qubec.


Contact: Julie Gazaille
University of Montreal

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