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University of Manchester, Sano Genetics to Research Eye Diseases

NEW YORK – Sano Genetics and researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK said this week that they will collaborate on a new project to translate genetic eye disease research into clinical applications.

The partners plan to build a database of genomic and patient-reported data to identify how genetics can impact disease outcome. The effort will rely in part on Cambridge, UK-based Sano Genetics' online platform for patient engagement as well as at-home DNA testing kits. Innovate UK, a government agency, is supporting the effort, which will run for two years, with £80,000 ($103,000). The total budget for the project is about £153,000.

Sano CEO Patrick Short said in a statement that the project aims to "produce results that can be put to immediate use in risk prediction and treatment of genetic eye diseases." It will specifically focus on determining why individuals carrying the same genetic mutations can have different levels of disease severity.

Sano will provide users with saliva collection kits, and is likely to use a combination of genotyping, whole-exome sequencing, and whole-genome sequencing to answer different research questions, Short said.

Jamie Ellingford, a research fellow at the University of Manchester, is a lead investigator for the project. He said the effort could lead to "immediate improvements in the diagnosis and management of individuals with genetic eye diseases." Ellingford also commented that discovering new genetic mutations in the project could enable clinicians in the future to better predict risk of blindness and might "pave the way for the development of new treatments."

Sano is currently working on a separate Innovate UK-backed project with Genomics England and Zetta Genomics to develop a new tool that will allow genomics research project participants with rare diseases to self-report information about their conditions and to receive updates.