Cloud computing specialists Lifebit will partner with Brazil-based Gen-t and Mexico-based Omica.bio to provide the two organizations with its federated data technology and help diversify human genomics.
People of African, Asian, Hispanic or Latin American origins are massively underrepresented in genomic studies. For example, the genome-wide association study (GWAS) diversity monitor, which tracks the ethnicity of GWAS study participants in studies published and included in the PubMed database (2005-2023), shows that as of July 18, 2023, only 0.33% of GWAS participants are of Hispanic or Latin American origin.
Both Gen-t and Omica.bio are aiming to collect genomic information about people from Central and Latin America to help improve representation of this population group in genomic research.
Gen-t is a private genomics platform for research and development that is headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil. Set up in 2021 by Lygia Pereira, CEO and co-founder, and colleagues it is aiming to map the genome of 200,000 Brazilians to help advance precision medicine and develop new therapeutics.
Omica.bio is based in Mexico City and is a public-private research project aiming to find genetic variants relevant to the health of the Mexican people. Also founded in 2021, by Victor Angel-Mosti, now CEO, and colleagues, it is aiming to create a national biobank of healthcare data and also wants to bring precision medicine to more people.
Although both organizations are still young, they want to ensure that the data they collect can be safely accessed by people around the world to encourage a wide group of researchers to use the data.
U.K.-based Lifebit has developed a federated data analysis technology, which allows researchers to access datasets and carry out analyses in remote locations in a secure manner. Data is not moved or copied using this approach, which helps reduce security risks.
“Our partnership with Lifebit will provide us with the international connections to safely link Brazilian data to other datasets around the world and boost the availability of more diverse genomic resources for research. This is vital in sustaining this initiative and ensuring people in Brazil can benefit from the latest drugs and scientific discoveries,” said Pereira.
“Using Lifebit’s platform will enable these data from traditionally underserved populations to be securely available for approved research. By connecting organisations across the global community, we want to collaborate and challenge the fact that only 1% of data currently available for research comes from Latin American / Hispanic communities,” added Maria Dunford, CEO of Lifebit.