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Two NIH initiatives launch intensive efforts to find roots of common diseases

to either maintain health or lead to disease. Without these more precise measures of exposure, it will be very difficult to figure out why certain people develop disease and others do not. We also need to find out why a disease has such a different prognosis from one person to the next. Given the recent advances in biomedical research, this is the right time to take on this challenge."

To determine how the environment, diet and physical activity contribute to illness, investments will be made in emerging technologies, such as small, wearable sensors that can measure environmental agents that have contact with the body and individual measures of activity. Devices also will be developed that measure changes in human biology, which can be observed in samples of blood or urine. In aggregate, these new tests will provide the precision needed to help determine how these factors influence the genetic risk of developing disease. The goal is to produce devices for application to eventual population studies, to speed up data processing, to enhance accuracy and to reduce cost.

With the $14 million annual investment in the environmental component of this initiative, NIH will develop technologically advanced measures of dietary intake, precise personalized measures of physical activity, and biological measures that identify prior exposures to potential toxins such as metals and solvents. NIH also will assess disease indicators like inflammation and oxidative stress that are known to be influenced by environmental toxins.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, a part of the National Library of Medicine at NIH, will develop databases to manage the vast amount of genetic, medical and environmental information that will emerge from these initiatives. To encourage rapid research advances, and in keeping with the principles pioneered by the Human Genome Project and increasingly common in such pre-competitive public/private partnerships, all data
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Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute


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