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Medical researchers around the world can now study whole genome sequencing data of half a million individuals together with proteomic data, whole body imaging scans, and a treasure trove of additional information on their health and lifestyle.
Five years and 350,000 hours of genome sequencing in the making, the highly anticipated whole genome sequencing (WGS) data release by the UK Biobank has now been accessed by more than 300 research teams in the first two weeks alone.
Data from the UK Biobank has already been used in more than 9,000 peer-reviewed papers, and has led to several big medical discoveries, including:
- Finding genes associated with protection against obesity and type 2 diabetes, which has the potential to lead to the development of new drugs
- Identifying individuals at very high genetic risk for diseases such as heart disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, which may help with screening
- Discovering a link between physical activity and Parkinson’s that can predict the disease up to seven years before diagnosis from smartwatch data, potentially leading to early intervention.
The hope is that the addition of so much WGS data will further accelerate drug discovery and development, as well as precision medicine. With a sample size of half a million people, and data collected on more than 10,000 variables (such as blood pressure, cognitive function, diet, and bone density), the data delivered through UK Biobank Research Analysis Platform (UKB-RAP) could help drive tailored healthcare.
In a recent press release on the milestone, David Reese, Executive Vice President of R&D at Amgen, said "This groundbreaking dataset allows scientists to explore how genetics affects levels of proteins, metabolites, and other physiological factors, more closely than ever before, promising to accelerate our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of disease.” Amgen is one of four pharmaceutical companies that helped fund the initiative, alongside UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Wellcome Trust.
Here at DNAnexus, we are proud to partner with UK Biobank to enable the global research community to access and analyze resources from this ambitious project. DNAnexus built the (UKB-RAP)to scale along with the growing datasets in both size and complexity. Today, the UKB-RAP holds more than 30 petabytes of biomedical information.
The protected cloud environment is also designed to meet the most rigorous standards for data quality, security, privacy, and safety. The platform proactively manages local, regional, and international compliance requirements, in order to protect participants’ confidentiality while maximizing the opportunity to help researchers access and collaborate on this valuable data.
More than 5,800 users worldwide, including researchers from academic, commercial, government, and charitable settings, are now harnessing the UKB-RAP to enable scientific discoveries that improve human health.
Eugene Gardner of the University of Cambridge has been pleased with what he’s seen so far.
“By making all of the data available on the cloud through DNAnexus, I can readily scale my computing needs based on my current analysis. The support team recruited by DNAnexus thas been incredibly responsive. I look forward to using and watching the UKB-RAP grow over the coming years.” said
Built by DNAnexus and enabled by Amazon Web Services, the UKB-RAP provides a valuable library of tools for analyzing genomic, proteomic, imaging, and clinical data. Approved UK Biobank researchers can also combine these various data types for multi-modal analysis based on their specific project needs.
With the ability to share data, tools, and storage power in the cloud, the secure and scalable UKB-RAP has democratized access to this valuable dataset, enabling UK Biobank researchers around the world to access and analyze this groundbreaking new WGS data.
DNAnexus CEO Thomas Laur summarized the recent milestone by saying “The team at UK Biobank continues to set the standard for future global health research projects. We are proud to be a part of this collaborative approach that will enable scientists to better understand, treat, and eventually cure many of the world’s most devastating diseases.”
Read our collection of UKB-RAP Researcher Spotlights and learn more about how we help build and grow influential biomedical research communities.