Genomic researchers have missed out by not including many African individuals in their studies, Newsweek reports. That, it adds, is something that the US National Institutes of Health's Charles Rotimi has been working to correct while also building up research capacity within Africa.
A 2009 analysis estimated that 96 percent of people who took part in genome-wide association studies were of European ancestry, and fewer than 1 percent of studies included Africans. That means that researchers haven't studied some highly genetically diverse populations that could give them insights into a number of diseases, including cancer, Newsweek says. At the same time, it adds, it means that new advances in medicine could pass African individuals by.
"The genomic revolution was going to fly over Africa," Rotimi tells Newsweek, "and tomorrow's medicine will not work for all."
Rotimi started the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) project to not only boost the numbers of Africans represented in genomic studies but to also increase the numbers of African scientists involved, Newsweek adds. Through H3Africa, it adds that 29 centers have been established across Africa and there are cervical cancer projects and others underway. But the program's two initial five-year funding cycles are about to come to an end, Newsweek.