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Corporate, Cellular & Molecular Biology, Genetic & Rare Diseases

54gene Uses Illumina Sequencing to Create World-Class Facility

Partnership focuses on leveraging the diverse African genome to improve healthcare

54gene Uses Illumina Sequencing to Create World-Class Facility
September 3, 2020
As the oldest human genome, the African genome contains more diversity than any other continent. However, it’s 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 medicines research. 54gene, a Nigeria-based company, intends to redress this under-representation of the African population in genomics research and leverage new information as a global research resource while ensuring Africans themselves benefit from cutting edge medical innovations.

“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 access to precision medicine.”

Illumina’s recently announced partnership with 54gene will help establish a new genetics facility in Lagos, Nigeria, equipped with a suite of Illumina's cutting-edge sequencing and high-density microarray technology platforms. The facility will use African genetic information for health research and drug development that has the potential not only to benefit people living in Africa and those of African descent around the world, but also to contribute to global healthcare advances.

“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,” said Paula Dowdy, SVP and General Manager, EMEA, Illumina. “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.”

54gene has established relationships with researchers across Africa and the company has stored tissue samples stores a de-identified biobank. These will be genotyped, sequenced, and analyzed without the need to send samples overseas. This will reduce turnaround time and costs for test results, reflecting Illumina’s commitment to enabling Africa to expand its genomic capabilities.

“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 access to precision medicine,” said 54gene Founder and CEO Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong. “This is part of our wider commitment to build capacity and infrastructure in Africa which will allow us to significantly expand genomics research while also improving health outcomes on the continent.”

Illumina will also deliver its renowned training for the use of its sequencing and microarray equipment and ensure ongoing support for 54gene’s growing team of molecular scientists.

“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,” said Ene-Obong.

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