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Scientists to map 50M human cells to identify disease fingerprints

Scientists at Illumina and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have joined hands to map 50 million human cells from 10,000 people to identify unique genomic fingerprints of diseases.

The team will map genomic fingerprints of autoimmune diseases, heart diseases and cancer. The work will build on the early success of a clinical trial for Crohn’s disease, which affects more than 80,000 Australians.

Dubbed the TenK10K project, it has received a joint investment of 27 million Australian Dollars. The work will further the research of the OneK1K clinical trial across 10 Sydney hospitals.

“Illumina is supporting the project with supplies, equipment and specialist research support, which will provide a critical boost for Garvan’s single-cell and whole genome sequencing research and enable upscaling to make the TenK10K project the largest project of its kind. The investment will enable the Garvan Institute to improve how accurately disease-linked immune cell fingerprints can be identified and developed,” Garvan Institute of Medical Research said in a statement.

The team has already in a paper published in Science announced that they had analysed the genomic profile of more than one million cells from 1,000 people to identify markers of autoimmune disease. The team used single-cell sequencing, a new technology that allowed them to detect subtle changes in individual cells.

” The early results suggest we can predict a patient’s response to a therapy based on their genetic profile. Through single-cell sequencing, which analyses individual cells rather than an average of many cells, we can see fingerprints that we’ve never been able to distinguish before,” Professor Joseph Powell, leader of the OneK1K and now TenK10K project said.

As part of the new project, the team will conduct commercial tests to identify the right therapy for challenging autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease.

They will also conduct early trials of powerful new RNA therapies, look for potential early targets for treatments for cancers and long Covid, and do tests to track the aftermath of heart attacks and identify the risk of sudden death. India Today

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