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UCLA to add 800 whole-genome sequences to Alzheimer's data

Photo by mtsofan via Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers at UCLA's Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI) have been receiving, sorting, storing and sharing data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) -- a worldwide scientific effort to define the progression of Alzheimer's disease -- since 2004.

Now, a large scale public–private effort is underway to obtain the whole-genome sequencing of the more than 800 people enrolled in ADNI.

UCLA announced Tuesday that the new project, involving almost 60 sites around the country, is expected to generate, at minimum, 165 terabytes of new genetic data to put toward the goal of improving diagnosis and treatment.

All of the ADNI data continues to flow into UCLA's LONI, including detailed, long-term assessments of neuropsychological measures, standardized structural and functional imaging, and precise biomarker measures from blood and spinal fluid.

Now, added to this wealth of information will be the ADNI participants' entire genome sequences, which determine all 6 billion letters in an inpidual's DNA in one comprehensive analysis.

Once the sequences are completed — approximately 16 weeks after the sequencing project starts — the raw data will rapidly be made available to qualified scientists around the globe to mine for novel targets for risk-assessment, new therapies and much-needed insights into the causes of Alzheimer's.

The whole-genome sequencing is being co-funded by the Alzheimer's Association and the Brin Wojcicki Foundation -- a charitable non profit created by the founder of genetics firm 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki, and her husband, the co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin.