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Tuesday 25th October 2016

500,000 enrolled with DNA bank

8th July 2010

A gene bank in the UK has reached its goal of enrolling 500,000 adults.


In what is the most comprehensive health study in this country, UK Biobank volunteers have undergone medical checks, answered health and lifestyle questions and given genetic samples which will be stored for a number of years.

By using the gene bank, scientists hope to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, and dementia.

Dr Tim Sprosen, the chief scientist at UK Biobank, said: “By putting together a vast amount of data together now on people's health, with the samples, we will get reliable answers to the kind of questions they want to know.”

But he said much of the interesting research would not be done for at least another decade.

“In 10 or 20 years time, we will be able to analyse things in the samples that researchers haven't even thought about yet,” he added.

“We are custodians of this resource. The next generation of scientists, who might still be in primary school today, will use new tests and be able to unlock new secrets as to how we prevent disease.”

The health of everyone who has taken part will be tracked through the coming decades via their medical records, though the confidentiality of participants would be rigorously protected.

UK Biobank has cost about £65m so far and was set up by the Department of Health, Medical Research Council, Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust charity.


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