Friday, September 4, 2020

Nigerian healthtech startup to create prestigious genomics facility in Nigeria

Nigeria-based healthtech startup, 54gene has partnered with Illumina, a US-based genomics company to create a first-class genomics facility in Nigeria.

The partnership will support the establishment of a new genetics facility in Lagos, Nigeria, equipped with a suite of Illumina’s cutting-edge sequencing and high-density microarray technology platforms, which will generate genetic information for health research and drug development.

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, founder and CEO of 54gene explains that the new partnership will open doors for new scientific discovery and expand genomics research.

“The addition of Illumina’s cutting-edge technology to our research and diagnostic capabilities is a critical step for 54gene in fulfilling our mission of equalizing precision medicine. This is part of our wider commitment to building capacity and infrastructure in Africa which will allow us to significantly expand genomics research, while also improving health outcomes on the continent. Alongside our many partners in the African medical and scientific community, we want to make advanced molecular diagnostics more accessible to the region, while creating hundreds of skilled jobs in molecular biology and bioinformatics.”

In addition, the new collaboration will expand 54gene’s sequencing-based research and molecular diagnostics capabilities with a focus on improving health outcomes through precision medicine.

According to 54gene, Africa contains more genetic diversity than any other continent because the African genome is the oldest human genome.

Yet it is estimated that fewer than 3% of the genomes analyzed come from Africans, making it a potentially rich source of new genetic information for health and drug discovery research.

Founded in 2019, 54gene is a health technology company whose mission is to advance precision medicine capabilities in Africa through research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and clinical programs.

54gene intends to leverage off this as a global research resource while ensuring Africans benefit from cutting edge medical innovations.

Through the partnership, African samples stored in 54gene’s de-identified biobank will be genotyped, sequenced, and analyzed without the need to send samples overseas. The creation of local infrastructure will reduce costs and turnaround for critical test results. Illumina will provide training to support the use of its sequencing and microarray equipment and ensure ongoing support for 54gene’s growing team of molecular scientists.

Paula Dowdy, SVP, General Manager EMEA, Illumina comments on the importance of, “It’s incredibly important to ensure equitable access to genomic sequencing technology across the world so that genomes can be interpreted in the context of global diversity. Through partnerships such as this with 54gene, we aim to remove barriers of access to sequencing and expand the benefits of genomics to as many people as possible.”


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