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Hundreds of Thousands of Exomes

Half a dozen drug companies plan to sequence the exomes of half a million people from the UK Biobank project and make that data public, as GenomeWeb reports.

The UK Biobank has recruited 500,000 people to take part in the project and has collected blood, urine, and saliva samples from them for analysis along with health information. In July, the biobank made genotyping data from the participants available. While that included information on some 800,000 sites in participants' genomes, the biobank noted that it would soon be supplemented by exome sequencing data. Last year, GlaxoSmithKline and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced that they would be working with the UK Biobank to sequence all 500,000 participants. They estimated that they'd be able to sequence the exomes of first 50,000 people within a year and that sequencing the rest of the cohort would take another three to five years.

Regeneron has now announced that it and its new collaborators — AbbVie, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Biogen, and Pfizer — would be able to finish that work by the end of 2019. Each company, Technology Review adds, is contributing $10 million to the effort in the hopes that it provides insight into disease. It adds that the companies with have the first crack at the data, but will make it publicly available within a year.