Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93513

UK Biobank, the world's largest biomedical database, opens online

2 April 2012
Appeared in BioNews 651

The world's largest database of medical information has opened online, allowing researchers around the world to access its contents. The UK Biobank holds anonymous information from more than 500,000 British people, making it a 'globally unique resource' according to England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The information collected from participants, all between 49 and 60 years old, includes height, weight, blood pressure and lung function. Medical histories are also included with notes on psychosocial factors, such as how often participants see family and friends.

The data further includes 100,000 eye tests, making it the largest ever eye study. Collected between 2006 and 2010 after eight years of preparation, the UK Biobank holds biological samples from participants and will be continuously updated with information from participants' NHS records. Participants gave their time and body fluids voluntarily, without being paid.

The information will be available on demand to scientists working on health-related research, regardless of their sector or source of funding. It is hoped that by mining such a rich resource, researchers will be able to pinpoint why some people develop diseases like cancer and heart disease in mid to later life while others do not.

Professor Sir Rory Collins, UK Biobank's principal investigator, said that it was a 'very exciting day for medical research'. Other countries including China and Sweden have similar databases, but the UK Biobank is the most comprehensive.

Applications to use the anonymous information will be made online and checked by the independent UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council who have oversight of the entire system. All researchers using the database are required to add their own findings to it, further bolstering the information available.

Dame Davies said that the resource has 'huge potential for future generations and will help us understand how our children and our children's children can live longer, healthier lives'.

The UK Biobank is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Department of Health, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the British Heart Foundation.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Mid-life Britain opens doors for disease research
Reuters |  30 March 2012
UK Biobank opens for research
UK BioBank (press release) |  30 March 2012
UK biobank opens to researchers
BBC News |  30 March 2012
UK Biobank puts medical records of half a million Britons online
Guardian |  30 March 2012
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
20 February 2017 - by Dr Rosie Gilchrist 
A UK Biobank study has found that genetics accounts for eight percent of the difference in people's feelings of tiredness and low energy...
26 September 2016 - by Ayala Ochert 
China has opened a national gene bank that could ultimately be the world's biggest, eventually housing 300 million genetic samples...
3 March 2014 - by Karen Birmingham 
The eight professors, including two Knights, who contributed to this event, were given a relatively easy time by the public, possibly because there was little time for questions or perhaps because the case for mass genotyping projects had been convincing...
11 November 2013 - by Simon Hazelwood-Smith 
The UK branch of the Personal Genome Project has launched, with the aim of sequencing the genomes of 100,000 British volunteers...
7 October 2013 - by Rhys Baker 
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced a new partnership between Genomics England and Cancer Research UK as part of a Government bid to make the UK the first country in the world to sequence 100,000 genomes within five years....
22 July 2013 - by Maren Urner 
The world's largest database of cancer-related genetic variations to date has been made available by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), US...
10 June 2013 - by Dr Shanya Sivakumaran 
Leading international healthcare, research, funding, and technology organisations will work together in a non-profit alliance to enable large-scale sharing of genetic data...
4 March 2013 - by Daryl Ramai 
Leading technology groups team up with Cancer Research UK to develop a mobile phone app that will allow the public to sift through large amounts of genetic data in a bid to accelerate cancer research...
4 February 2013 - by David O'Rourke 
The planned Tumuor Profiling Unit at The Institute for Cancer Research, London will focus on sequencing the DNA of cancer tumours to help diagnose and monitor different types of cancer, and to also identify those more likely to respond to particular treatments....
13 August 2012 - by Dr Vanita Rasiah 
Here's an idea - what if the key to improved treatment of some of the most problematic medical conditions lay buried in a vast mass of patient data siloed in archaic computer systems? What if researchers couldn't get to it thanks to an impenetrable cat's cradle of red tape?...
6 June 2012 - by Dr Victoria Burchell 
A wealth of whole genome data – or the entire genetic codes – from children with cancer has been released by scientists in the US. The researchers claim the database more than doubles the volume of highly detailed, whole genome data available worldwide...
28 May 2012 - by Dr Victoria Burchell 
As a promotional tool to advertise the research funded by the Wellcome Trust, this short film aims both to enthuse and to inform. In both respects it's relatively successful, combining clear and engaging explanations of two projects with smart graphics and shots of impressive-looking equipment. Unfortunately, a slow and rather confusing start may discourage some viewers from reaching the main messages, all of which are in the second half...
6 February 2012 - by Dr Gill Haddow 
DNA databanks - controversial yet exciting endeavours to collect and store individuals' DNA alongside other information - are the subject of Bernice Elger's latest book, which Gill Haddow describes as fundamental reading...
5 December 2011 - by Professor Barbara Prainsack and Dr Alena Buyx 
What do research biobanks, social media and the NHS have in common?...
9 May 2011 - by Chris Chatterton 
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced in Washington last week that the Million Veteran Program (MVP), a research project that aims to collect DNA, lifestyle and other health data from one million veterans under the care of the VA, was being rolled out nationally from 5 May 2011....
4 April 2007 - by Zulehkha Waheed 
The UK Biobank project, which aims to collect biological samples and medical information from half a million Britons, has finally got underway in Manchester, after eight years of preparation and planning. The scheme aims to recruit volunteers between the ages of 40-69, who will give up...
15 March 2006 - by BioNews 
A project to collect DNA samples and medical information from half a million Britons was launched this week, after years of planning. The UK Biobank, hosted at the University of Manchester, eventually wants to recruit up to 500,000 volunteers aged between 40-69 years. Initially, 3000 people living in the...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.