Feeds

UK Biobank opens its doors

World's biggest medical experiment is go

Remote control for virtualized desktops

The first phase of a huge project to collect and analyse a vast array of biomedical data has been launched today. The Manchester pilot of the world-first UK Biobank is the start of a ground-breaking study which eventually hopes to recruit half a million volunteers aged 40 to 69.

The study will examine in detail how genes, lifestyle and other environmental factors interplay to affect health long-term. As well as gene sequences, researchers will collate volunteers' questionnaires with measurements of on weight, height, body fat.

Understanding the relative risk factors for conditions with multiple causes like heart disease and Alzheimer's will be a key aim. Links to individual genes are often made without knowing the contibution they make to the overall disease phenotype.

It's unlikely that those participating will see any health perks. Principal investigator Professor Rory Collins said: "Taking part will be a bit like being a blood donor - you probably won't benefit, but others will."

The University of Oxford man explained: "All studies to date have had limitations, which means we don't have a clear picture of how these different elements interact."

UK Biobank is backed by £61m of funding from the NHS, the Wellcome Trust and other medical charities.

The deficit in clincal information when compared to the glut of genetic, expression and molecular data produced by academic research is driving the effort. The Human Genome Project has so far produced barely a sniff of its much-vaunted medical bonanza.

Some scientists have criticised the potentially cumbersome scale of the new research, however. A report by the Commons science and technology committee in 2003 dismissed Biobank for being 'speculative' and 'politically driven'.

Collins defended Biobank: "Every possible detail has been gone through with a fine-tooth comb - rigourous scientific assessment, review by an independent ethics and governance council, Data Protection Act compliance, [and] stringent security measures to prevent unauthorised access to participants' data."

The storage task facing the study has meant bespoke operations for handling the groaning weight of data and biological samples. Once up and running nationwide, a new robotic system will look after the 10m total samples that will be taken from 1,000 people per day at 10 assessment centres. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.