African company set to build the world’s first and largest pan-African biobank

Co-founded in 2019, by Dr. Abasi Ene-obeng and Francis Osifo, the Nigerian health startup company aims to unlock the African genome. According to information on the official website of the company, 54gene will partner with research institutions, hospitals, pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies in Africa to address the challenge of limited diverse genomics data, which may hold the key to medical discoveries and healthcare solutions.

Research report indicated that, Africans are more genetically diverse than all other populations combined, yet African DNA makes up only 2% of genetic research material as against 78% European samples hence the need to build an African focused biobank to help bridge the gap by producing more well-researched samples to enable specialists to understand the African gene sets for better treatment options.

According to the authors of the above research finding, “calculations developed based on evidence from primarily European populations may not apply to people of other ethnic backgrounds”. They further stated that, “the lack of ethnic diversity in human genomic studies means that, our ability to translate genetic research into clinical practice or public health policy may be dangerously incomplete or worse, mistaken.”

Based on the deductions from the research findings, the initiative by 54gene must be promoted because, it will help save the lives of many African people. Operations of the bank will target multiple disease states including, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.

The company currently provides services such as, genetic testing and molecular diagnostics for patients and physicians in order to expand access to precision medicine in Africa. 54gene provides its services within the confines of the laws guiding the sector like the international data privacy laws such as HIPAA and GDPR. Opt-in to the proposed biobank is equally voluntary, which prevents any form of coercion.

Conclusively, the company aims to equilibrate healthcare for people of African descent and also advance the quality of medical care worldwide. 54gene attracted the interest of investors such as, Y Combinator, Fifty Years Ventures, Better Ventures, and KdT ventures whom are helping to promote the project in their various capacities.

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