Treatments for diseases like diabetes could be 'unlocked' after release of genome sequencing data

The biggest ever bank of human genetic information has been made available for medical researchers to get stuck into, as ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger reports

New treatments for diseases like diabetes could be "unlocked" after UK Biobank released the world’s largest set of whole genome sequencing data on Thursday, scientists said.

UK Biobank unveiled the data, which includes the information of half a million participants, in a step that is set to drive the discovery of new diagnostics, treatments and cures.

The scientists said it is “the most detailed picture of human health that exists."

It will equip researchers with the "ultimate toolbox” to make new discoveries about disease development possible and create new and better drugs to combat this, they added.

UK Biobank ranks as the world’s most important health database and is arguably the UK’s most significant scientific asset.

'Hopefully with new breakthroughs we will have a way of stopping the disease': Alex Herd has lived with Motor Neuron Disease for the past two years and hopes milestones such as this can help those suffering

Originally diagnosed back in 2021, Alex Herd told ITV News, that he found the most stressful part of his diagnosis was not knowing exactly what he was diagnosed with to begin with.

He hopes new research and milestones such as the UK Biobank's genome sequencing can help those suffering from diseases that don't currently have effective treatments.

Professor Naomi Allen, the chief scientist at UK Biobank, said the release of the data means that “within a few years we may well see new and more effective drugs for diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, rare genetic diseases (Huntington’s, motor neurons disease) and cancers”.

UK Biobank has released the world’s largest set of whole genome sequencing data. Credit: Dave Guttridge/UK Biobank/PA

“It may also lead to more targeted healthcare, whereby your genetic make-up can help determine whether or not you are more or less likely to benefit from a certain treatment, or to have side-effects," she added.

Whole genome sequencing analyses the entire human genome – a unique genetic code of three billion building blocks.

UK Biobank has been around since the early 2000's during which scientists were concerned about the rise of diseases like diabetes, cancer, and dementia.

They pushed for a database devoted to genetics, health and lifestyle to help them tease apart who was most at risk and how diseases could be prevented.

It took researcher more than five years, 350,000 hours of genome sequencing, and over £200 million of investment to create the dataset released on Thursday.

It is the most ambitious project of its kind ever undertaken.

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