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NIH and Wellcome Trust announce partnership to support population-based genome studies in Africa
Date:6/22/2010

local research facilities in their home country and use genome-wide scanning and sequencing technologies to identify genetic changes that contribute to the disorder selected for study. Previous genetic research suggests that populations in Africa have greater genetic diversity than populations in Europe and Asia. Genetic variation has been shown to affect how the body responds to environmental exposures and influence the risk of an illness.

"We expect H3Africa will initiate major studies in both communicable and non-communicable diseases," said Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust. "Though we don't often think of it, genes have important influences on the way an individual responds to an infection, either affecting how severely a person becomes ill or sometimes changing the way medications work to fight the infection. And we've known for years that common diseases like diabetes and hypertension run in families, clearly showing a genetic component."

Because of the greater genetic variation in African populations, compared to European or Asian populations, the project may help researchers identify rare genetic variations that may well affect patients in all parts of the world. Moreover, as new genetic factors contributing to diseases are identified, researchers may be able to use them to develop new ways to diagnose disease as well as open new pathways to treatments.

"H3Africa will be fundamentally different than previous investments in medical research in Africa," said Charles N. Rotimi, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health at the National Human Genome Research Institute, an arm of the National Institutes of Health. "In the past, many research projects simply took samples from Africa and conducted the studies back in Western labs. H3Africa will build the capacity for African researchers to study African populations to solve African problems and will create strong collaborations
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-451-8325
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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