Britain plans to undertake the world's largest study into the genetic and environmental causes of disease through the U.K. Biobank project.
Its goal is to collect DNA samples from around 500,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69 and monitoring their health at the same time.
Participants in the project are expected to be found after letters targeting men and women in the appropriate age group are sent out, probably by the end of 2006. The recipients would then be assessed at one of the 35 centers in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This process of recruitment is expected to last three or four years at least.
Eventually the $115 million Biobank is believed to be able to assist in finding cures for diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The effects of environment, genetics and lifestyle on disease are expected to be revealed through acess of the Biobank and its data.
U.K. Biobank`s principal investigator Professor Rory Collins said: 'For decades to come, the U.K. Biobank resource should provide researchers around the world with vital insights into some of the most distressing diseases of middle and old age.'
Professor Colin Blakemore, chief executive of Britain`s Medical Research Council, one of the investors in Biobank said, 'U.K. Biobank offers enormous potential to find out more about the complex links between our genes, the lives we lead and our health. Over the coming years, the data from this study will grow into a unique resource for future generations.'
Biobank however still does not have support from the medical community as a whole. Many are skeptical whether the scope of the project would ensure that the information held is accurate and honestly represented.