Lifebit partners with Latin American ‘innovators’ to enhance genomics research

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Genomics Genome Drug discovery Dna

London-based precision medicine software provider Lifebit has partnered with two population genomic initiatives in Mexico and Brazil to help diversify genomic research and reduce health inequality in Latin America.

The use of Lifebit’s federated technology will allow researchers to connect with and securely access the genomic data held by gen-t, headquartered in Sao Paolo, and Omica.bio, based in Mexico City.

Currently, 78% of all genomic data available for research comes from people with white European ancestry, while less than 1% is from people of Latin American or Hispanic origin – an imbalance that significantly limits the impact of scientific insights for those living in the region. 

According to Lifebit, as an overarching problem, 97% of health data around the world is inaccessible or unusable because of the increase in legal and regulatory restrictions on data access to keep sensitive information private.

In addition, datasets are increasing in size and can be hard to manage, making it difficult for researchers to physically access the right data for their analyses. These datasets can also become ‘siloed’ as they reside in disparate organisations and locations across the globe with bespoke governance laws restricting access or movement of the data.

To help tackle this inequality, gen-t and Omica.bio are partnering with Lifebit, to ensure the data they are collecting can be accessed, ethically and securely, for life sciences research.

The aim is to benefit local populations in Latin America and population health research across the world.  

gen-t was founded by experts in genomics research and aims to include the Brazilian population in precision medicine by recruiting 200k participants to safely collect data on their health, DNA and lifestyle. Focusing primarily on people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, gen-t’s programme includes free health checks and a follow-up health appointment every year for 5 years.

Prof Lygia Pereira, CEO and co-founder, gen-t Science, said: “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.”

In Mexico, Omica.bio focuses on ethical biotechnology. Through its network of community-driven biobanks, they partner with underserved communities and unique patient cohorts to provide global researchers with diverse health-related datasets. The company is ‘on a mission’ to bring Latin American communities to the forefront of biomedical innovation.

Victor Angel-Mosti, CEO and founder of Omica.bio, added: “Omica.bio and Lifebit share a common commitment to never let the lack of data stand in the way of scientific progress. This partnership presents an exciting opportunity to bring the genetic diversity of Latin American populations to the global research agenda. This has the potential to transform global research endeavours whilst also directly benefiting people in Latin America.”

Lifebit works with pharmaceutical companies and governments around the world, including the UK and Denmark, using its technology to help accelerate precision medicine and drug discovery.

Dr Maria Dunford, CEO of Lifebit, said: “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. Our mission is to ensure that access to biomedical data - in particular diverse data - will never again be an obstacle to curing diseases and we are delighted to partner with gen-t and Omica Bio.”

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