Nigeria: Health-Tech Startup, 54gene Partners US Based Illumina To Develop Genomics Facility



Sept. 15, 2020, 1:23 p.m.

Nigerian health-tech startup, 54gene in partnership with Illumina, a US-based genomics company to develop a first class genomics facility in Lagos, Nigeria.

This new development will ensure that the genomics facility established in the country is equipped with Illumina’s most advanced technologies and a microarray platform to fetch genetic information for health research and drug development.

The health-tech startup aims to advance precision medicine capabilities in Africa through research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and clinical programs.

This means that they aim to help doctors have a better understanding of the genetics of patients in order to aid them select treatments that are most likely to help the patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease.

Speaking on the new partnership, Founder and CEO of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong said, “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.”

Furthermore, the partnership will widen 54gene’s sequencing-based research and molecular diagnostics capabilities.

With this partnership, African samples stored in 54gene’s de-identified biobank will be genotyped, sequenced, and analyzed without sending samples overseas.

The creation of local infrastructure will eliminate costs for critical test results. Also, Illumina will train individuals on the use of its sequencing and microarray equipment while granting support to 54gene’s growing team of molecular scientists.

SVP, General Manager EMEA, Illumina, Paula Dowdy said, “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 0expand the benefits of genomics to as many people as possible.”

The African genome is the oldest human genome but less than 3% of the genomes analyzed come from Africans, making it a rich source of new genetic information for health and drug discovery research.

54gene seeks to use the genome as a global research resource at the same time allowing Africans to benefit from cutting-edge medical innovations.

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Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.