Drug giant AstraZeneca announced Thursday plans to scour the genomes of up to 2 million people’s DNA in collaboration with genetics pioneer J. Craig Venter’s company, Human Longevity. The collaboration will massively expand the number of people with fully sequenced genomes; Science reports that only about 100,000 individuals have had sequencing done to date.
HLI plans to sequence the genomes of an anticipated 500,000 participants in AstraZeneca’s clinical trials over the next 10 years. HLI will also share its own planned million-genome collection. The company, so far, has data on about 26,000 people, according to Science, who have been willing to chalk up tens of thousands of dollars to have a full health workup: genome sequencing, microbiome analysis, blood tests, a heart scan, a brain MRI, and a full-body fat scan.
For HLI, the partnership represents a way to capitalize on all this data. AstraZeneca, for its part, hopes to identify disease-causing mutations that are rare enough among the general population that they haven’t yet been spotted. To assist in that, AstraZeneca is also working with the Institute for Molecular Medicine, Finland; residents there may have more rare genes because the country was relatively geographically isolated until recently, Nature reports.
Additionally, AstraZeneca will create research teams to analyze all this data — one in-house, called the Center for Genomics Research, and another embedded in the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK.