Unlocking the secrets of global diseases

A new global network linking leading research centres across the world has launched today to tackle some of the most pressing global health challenges of our time such as autism, cancer, diabetes and dementia.

The International Phenome Centre Network (IPCN) will greatly increase global research capabilities in the field of phenomics. Through comprehensive analysis of biological fluids or tissue samples, phenomics examines how lifestyles and the environment people are exposed to interact with our genes. It can help explain why some people develop disease when others don’t. The network launched at a special presentation at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Doha, Qatar.

It is widely recognised that people’s genes are not enough to explain how disease develops, and that disease prevention, detection and treatment can be improved by understanding the dynamic interactions between genes, environments, microbiomes, diets and lifestyles, and their expression in diverse individuals and populations.

The mission of the IPCN is to better understand how variation in gene-environment interactions affects disease across the lifespan for different populations.

Using robust and harmonised data sets representing the world’s diverse populations, this research will inform global public health policies and the development of new therapies.

“The world is facing an unprecedented confluence of environmental and lifestyle factors that are dramatically increasing the risks of chronic disease, and posing the greatest public health challenges seen in modern times.

The International Phenome Centre Network is creating internationally harmonised centres of analytical science focused on understanding gene-environment interactions that underpin disease risk, the comparative biology of major diseases, and addressing unmet healthcare and medical needs,” said Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Director of the MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre (NPC) and Head of Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London.

Initiated by the NPC at Imperial College London, the IPCN includes more than a dozen international partners with regional, multi-institutional hubs in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States and the United Kingdom.

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