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New ADNI Project to Perform Whole-genome Sequencing of Alzheimer's Patients

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Alzheimer's Association and the Brin Wojcicki Foundation yesterday announced a partnership aimed at obtaining the whole-genome sequences of people with AD.

The Alzheimer's Association and the Wojcicki Foundation are funding the project, which seeks to perform whole-genome sequencing on more than 800 people enrolled in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), generating at least 165 terabytes of new genetic data.

Once the genomes are sequenced, the raw data will be made available to scientists worldwide to investigate new targets for risk assessment and new therapies and to gain new understanding into the disease, which afflicts an estimated 5.4 million Americans.

"The current ADNI database already includes detailed, long-term assessments of neuropsychological measures, standardized structural and functional imaging, and precise biomarker measures from blood and spinal fluid," said Robert Green of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and who will coordinate the sequencing work within ADNI. "Adding whole-genome sequences to this rich repository will allow investigators all over the world to discover new associations between these disease features and rare genetic variants, offering new clues to diagnosis and treatment."

The new project is an extension of ADNI, a public-private research project launched in 2004 with the goal of identifying biomarkers of AD in body fluids, structural changes in the brain, and measures of memory, in order to improve early diagnosis of the disease and develop better treatments. The National Institutes of Health leads ADNI and private sector support is provided through the Foundation for NIH.

ADNI is led by principal investigator Michael Weiner from the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Green will collaborate with Arthur Toga of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Andrew Saykin of Indiana University on the sequencing work.

The genome sequencing will be done at Illumina.