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Complete Genomics to Sequence Wellderly Study Genomes

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Complete Genomics will sequence the genomes of 1,000 people who have lived lengthy lives in a collaboration with Scripps Health that seeks to discover the genomic secrets of healthy elderly people.

The company said today that it will conduct the sequencing at its own cost and help build a database for the Wellderly Study, a project led by Scripps that will focus on 2,000 people with a median age of 87 and ranging up to 108 years old who have remained free from major diseases and the need for long-term medications.

"There have been a significant number of longevity studies, but the Wellderly Study is the first one focused specifically on healthy aging," Scripps Health Chief Academic Officer Eric Topol said in a statement. "Furthermore, through our partnership with Complete Genomics, we are now conducting the largest whole genome study of a single phenotype — healthy lifespan or healthspan."

The Wellderly project has two main goals: to understand the genetics involved in healthy lifespans, such as genes that protect against chronic diseases, and to harness the participant population as controls for genetic studies of late-onset diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

In addition to the sequencing, Complete Genomics also will help Scripps assemble the results into a Wellderly Genomic Reference Resource.

"This resource of universal controls will be extremely valuable to other research groups that are using sequencing to understand the genomic root causes of diseases," Scripps Translational Science Institute Director of Research Nicholas Schork said in a statement.

Topol added that by "being able to study participants' entire genome for the first time, we will gain valuable insights into the genetic variants that have helped protect the health of our Wellderly population."

The Wellderly Reference Resource also will add Cypher Genomics' clinical annotations to the sequencing datasets. The firm emerged from research conducted at Scripps by Topol, Schork, and others.

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