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Genetics

Understanding the Brazilian genome

Researchers from the Biosciences Institute at the University of São Paulo (USP) launched the “DNA do Brasil” (Brazilian DNA) initiative in December 2019 with the aim of mapping the genome of 15,000 Brazilians aged 35–74. The first results are expected to be released in 2025. The objective is to learn about genetic variations typical to the population that could cause disease, and armed with this information, to plan ways of preventing or treating them. The study will also give us a better understanding of the history of the Brazilian people. The project is supported by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, which is providing data from the Longitudinal Study on Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil), a set of epidemiological data from more than 15,000 people nationwide, collected by a consortium of public institutions. Three companies are expected to participate in the project: Brazil-based medical diagnostics company DASA, which will fund the sequencing of the first 3,000 samples; American biotechnology company Illumina, which will provide the inputs for genome analysis; and Google Cloud, which will store the data. The USP researchers are still seeking funding for the other 12,000 sequences. England pioneered this type of research with the Genomics England project, which started in 2013, and has already sequenced the genome of almost 100,000 people in an attempt to identify genetic variations related to cancer and rare diseases.

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