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NIH Unleashing Alzheimer's Project Whole Genome Sequence Data

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) –The National Institutes of Health has begun dumping volumes of genomic data from its large-scale Alzheimer's disease study into the public realm for the research community to begin searching for clues about ways to better understand, treat, and diagnose the disease, NIH said today.

NIH is depositing the whole genome sequencing data from the Alzheimer's Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) into the Database of Genotype and Phenotypes (dbGAP) and the Genetics of Alzheimer's Disease Data Storage Site, which are available for use by the research community.

The ADSP, a joint effort between the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institute on Aging, was one of the first projects launched under the $130 million National Alzheimer's Project, which started in 2012.

The data NIH is releasing now, which include whole genome sequence data from 410 individuals in 89 families, were generated under this project. The project partners have already deposited WGS data on 61 families and will complete the data on the remaining 28 families soon, NIH said.

NHGRI has put $25 million in sequencing capacity into the ADSP through three flagship sequencing centers, including the Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine, the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, and the Broad Institute.

These sequencing centers plan to produce whole genome sequences of 582 subjects from 111 families from the Family Based Study, a collection of several different patient cohort groups. Beyond the whole-genome studies, the three centers also have started an effort to conduct whole exome sequencing of 11,000 individuals, including 6,000 who are affected and 5,000 controls.

"Providing raw DNA sequence data to a wide range of researchers proves a powerful crowd-sourced way to find genomic changes that put us at increased risk for this devastating disease," NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement.

Collins said the sequencing effort was created to identify genetic risks for late-onset Alzheimer's disease, but said it also could uncover versions of genes that protect against the disease.

"These studies have been designed to have enough statistical power to discover both risk alleles and protective alleles," said Adam Felsenfeld, director of the NHGRI Genome Sequencing Program. "The analysis of this genomic data is just getting started, and we are looking forward to what we might learn."

The cohorts involved in the studies came from the NIH Late Onset of Alzheimer's Disease study, the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer's Disease, the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium, and the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology initiative.
The data NIH is currently making available include genomic information, phenotype data, and family pedigrees and other demographic information.

In September, NIH awarded an additional $4.9 million to fund research using omics, systems biology, and stem-cell-based approaches to study molecular networks involved in Alzheimer's and develop new treatment methods.