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Human Longevity Accessing Twins Genomic Database

Red head twins

(Eddy Van 3000/Flickr)

13 November 2014. Human Longevity Inc., a bioinformatics and genomics company for solving age-related medical problems, is getting access to a database of genome and gut microbe samples from twins in the U.K. to provide a broader analytical base for designing new diagnostics and therapies. Financial details of the agreement between the San Diego company founded by genomics pioneer J. Craig Venter and King’s College London, where the TwinsUK database resides, were not disclosed.

Human Longevity was founded last year to design therapies and diagnostics based on genomics, stem cells, and informatics to address health issues related to human aging. The company says it aims to build the most comprehensive database of genetic variables and associated physiological traits. In addition to Venter, Human Longevity’s founders include stem cell researcher Robert Hariri, and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, also creator of the X-Prize challenges.

TwinsUK is a registry of some 12,000 adult twins in the U.K. compiled to help address issues of genetics, environment, and common diseases. Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College founded the database in 1993, initially to study incidence of osteoporosis in identical twins, but has grown to address a wide range of health conditions. Recent genome-wide association studies by TwinsUK identified more than 400 gene centers in more than 30 types of disease.

The agreement will give Human Longevity access to the database for whole genome and microbiome sequencing on up to 2,000 individuals, along with metabolomic analysis on up to 6,000 longitudinal samples. As part of this project, the company Metabolon Inc. in Durham, North Carolina is being asked to perform metabolite profiling.

Twins UK has current studies investigating genetics of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal system, aging, and sight. One of the current studies, named British Gut, is an open-source initiative where volunteers provide a swab sample of gut microbes, which TwinsUK will genetically sequence and provide participants with an individualized analysis. A comparable project, American Gut, is underway in the U.S. and collaborating with its British counterpart.

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