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S. Korea-led research group releases biggest DNA dataset for Asian populations Updated: 2019-12-06 16:03:45 KST

South Koreans living in the U.S. generally get the same medical treatment as Americans.
But because of genetic differences, it might not be as effective on them, and it can even cause side effects.
This has led to calls for "precision medicine," in which patients are treated according to their DNA.

And the sector seems to have great potential thanks to a study published Thursday in the journal Nature.

The GenomeAsia 100K Project, led by South Korean researchers from the bio-tech company Macrogen and Seoul University Bundang Hospital, have released the biggest-ever collection of sequenced DNA from Asia.

They analyzed the entire genomes of more than 17-hundred individuals from 64 Asian countries, and among nationalities, populations were further broken down by language, geography, and caste, where applicable.
Then, they compared the Asian DNA samples to those from Africa, the Americas and Europe, demonstrating an unprecedented diversity and scale.

"Genome medicine has always focused overwhelmingly on people of European descent. Until 2006, they made up 96 percent of the data.
There was a need for reference DNA data to represent Asians, so we've analyzed the greatest number of Asian individuals ever."

The new datasets have yielded several discoveries, such as highly diverse DNA structures within Asia and migration paths through the region.

But the biggest takeaways are the medical applications.

"These academic findings should be used in pharmacogenomics and precision medicine in a way that can help people receive the treatment that suits them best and that can prevent the diseases that they're most prone to. This will reduce treatment costs drastically."

For example, the study shows that East Asians should be more cautious with warfarin a commonly used anticoagulant because their DNA makes them more prone to an allergic response to the drug.
Such advanced healthcare will benefit more than 4.4 billion people of Asian heritage, who account for nearly 60 percent of the world's population.

"The datasets will also help South Korea take the initiative in genome biomedicine so that it can become a major player in the highly promising industry.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News."
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