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TwinsUK and BGI to Study Epigenetics of 5,000 Twins under $30M Project

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TwinsUK and Chinese genome institute BGI have launched a $30 million project called Epitwin to study epigenetic differences in 5,000 twins, the organizations said this week.

Under the collaboration, TwinsUK, a twin research group based at King's College London, and BGI plan to compare differences in methylation patterns of 20 million CpG islands between pairs of twins. The aim is to find differences that explain why many identical twins do not develop the same diseases. Initially, the researchers will focus on obesity, diabetes, allergies, heart disease, osteoporosis, and longevity.

"Finding the crucial differences between twins will lead us to the key genes that are being turned on and off, and so to the cause of disease, with great potential to find key targets for drug treatments," said project leader Tim Spector, director of TwinsUK and professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College, in a statement.

TwinsUK and BGI are sharing the costs of the project, which is supported by a project-specific senior investigator award to Spector by the European Research Council.

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