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Estonian Genome Center - The promising future of Estonian healthcare

Estonian Genome Center - The promising future of Estonian healthcare

Publish date: 2013-02-06

Almost every human trait and disease is the result of interactions between genetic factors and the environment. In order to examine the connection between genetic information and its effects, the database of genetic materials of the representative part of the population can be gathered, analysed and the investigation of genes responsible for the given feature can be performed by comparison of genetic information with a group of people possessing it.

Tags: biotechnology , estonia

The process described above, is one of the main objectives of the Estonian Genome Project, a national gene bank proposed by Andres Metspalu, a professor of biotechnology at the University of Tartu. The Estonian Genome Project Foundation was established in 2001 with the aim to coordinate the Estonian Genome Project and to create the gene bank of Estonian population. The second goal of the project is to facilitate the personalised medicine by setting up the healthcare database, giving the Estonians an opportunity to access their own data.

In December 2009 the Gene Bank stored phenotype and genotype data of 400 000 gene donors with an aim to create the database representing 5 % of Estonian population. One of the commercial purposes of the project is to make the national healthcare more competitive in the Baltic Sea region by more efficient medical assistance, thus lowering expenditures.

The specimens of DNA are taken from donors in the form of 50 ml of venous blood. Subsequently, the samples together with the phenotype data collected from the donors are coded, ensuring privacy. Finally, DNA necessary for genotyping is isolated from blood and analysed. The database can be used for scientific research concerning the treatment of various illnesses, public health investigation and statistical purposes. What is especially interesting and makes the project more valuable, the studies indicate that the Estonian population is the representative of all European populations, so the outcomes of the investigations performed on the bases of Estonian Gene Bank can be generalised for the other Europeans.

The Estonian Genome Centre is engaged in a lot of scientific project. One of them, “IndiMed” is focused on the assessment of the impact of the implementation of individualized medicine on disease prevention and treatment in Estonia. 



Jakub Chrustowicz


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