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China plans to build gigantic DNA database platform

In this July 17, 2014, file photo, wanted posters of men involved in recent terror attacks are posted on a street of Aksu in western China's Xinjiang province. Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, May 16, 2017, that China appears to be laying the groundwork for the mass collection of DNA samples from residents in a restive region with a large Muslim population.

In this July 17, 2014, file photo, wanted posters of men involved in recent terror attacks are posted on a street of Aksu in western China's Xinjiang province. Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, May 16, 2017, that China appears to be laying the groundwork for the mass collection of DNA samples from residents in a restive region with a large Muslim population.   | Photo Credit: AP

China plans to build a $1 billion super-sized DNA sequencing platform in the Jiangsu Province aimed at storing genetic information of millions of its ethnic Chinese population, official media reported today.

The DNA project is part of the National Health & Medicine Big Data (Nanjing) Center, a six-billion yuan (about $ one billion) project, Lan Qing, Deputy Director of the provincial Health and Family Planning Commission said.

During the first phase, health and medical information on about 80 million people, the equivalent of the population in Jiangsu, will be stored at the center, Mr. Lan said.

“When the facilities are ready, the designed capacity for DNA sequencing will be up to 400,000 to 500,000 samples per year,” state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The DNA sequencing project will be jointly undertaken by the state-owned Yangzi Group, Southeast University and Nanjing Medical University.

Researchers will then use big data created in the database to study genetic mutations related to major diseases, look for the impact of interaction between genes and environmental concerns on human heath, and provide statistical support for diagnosis and treatment of major diseases, Mr. Lan said.

Cai Long, board director of Yangzi Group, said the programme will focus on population genetics, newborns, childhood brain and cognitive development, cancer, and rare and chronic diseases.

The database is expected to be complete in around four years, he said.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 2:00:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-plans-to-build-gigantic-dna-database-platform/article19954964.ece

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