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East London genomic study of Asians will shed light on new drugs design

East London genomic study of Asians will shed light on new drugs design

Publish date: 2015-04-02

East London Genes and Health project, assuming sequencing genomes of 100 000 Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, has been launched on March 12, 2015. Comparing to people of European ancestry, these ethnic groups more often suffer from various illnesses, mainly heart diseases and type II diabetes. The project aims to analyze a genetic background and to select specific genes essential in disease outcome. The latters can possibly serve as a groundwork for new drugs design.

Tags: mutations , genome sequencing , East London Genes and Health

Hidden in genes

Immigrants from South Asia are abundant ethnic groups in east London, which in comparison to native British characterize in 2-fold and 5-fold higher morbidity to heart diseases and type II diabetes, respectively. Asians also often reveal weaker response to routinely used medicines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, in Pakistani and Bangladeshi population some unusually healthy individuals can be found. One of reasons of such good health can be a phenomenon of “human knock-out”. Knock-outs reflect a situation, when both alleles of a particular gene, each from one parent, are nonfunctional. It allows to demonstrate a phenotype dependent on a single gene.

In nature, knock-outs are extremely rare, however the probability is higher in children of related parents. Marriages between cousins or relatives and giving birth to children are frequent in ethnic minorities of Asians in Europe. 10 % of Bangladeshis and 30-40 % of Pakistanis have related parents.

Researchers from Queen Mary University in London are hoping to identify at least some of genes, which improve health when knocked-out. Such correlation could be the basis for new drugs, which will trigger the same positive outcome as inactivated genes. Similar example of PCSK9 gene has been identified in the genome of “perfectly healthy” woman in Texas, in which both mutated alleles has led to unusual decrease in cholesterol level. The same gene in a functional form is found among a group of French families with very high cholesterol levels. This particular gene identification has led to creation of a new class of medicines.

Searching

The project is planned for 4 years. It will engage 100 000 adults of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, age 16 and older, including healthy and unhealthy individuals. Volunteers will be asked to donate saliva (spit) and authorize researches to have insight into their medical records. Exon regions of Asian’s DNA will be sequenced in Wellcome Trust’s Sanger Institute by the end of 2017. Genomic data will be analyzed in The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Data will be analyzed in a context of medical records, particularly heart diseases and diabetes. The project, funded by Wellcome Trust and UK Medical Research Council, will consume ₤4 million.

Researchers hope to select specific knock-outs, as well as analyze general genetic make-up of Asians in UK, since this ethnic group was markedly under-represented in medical research. Obtained results will be valuable not only for a local community, but also in a global aspect.

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