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Due to the isolated geographic location of the Faroe Islands, the Faroese society has a pool of quite unique genetics – as they haven’t been mixed with foreign populations for a long time. Only since the past some 20 years, people from outside came and settled on the islands.
To look for Genetic contexts between conditions and diseases is like looking for a needle in a haystack, as usually the mix of genetics results in huge complexity of such research and possible variations. That is why the Faroese BioBank can provide a unique starting point for research projects. Through the pureness of the genes, connections are easier to track – which then provides the “needle”, which can be used as a hook for drawing conclusions into following research.
“The Genetic Biobank is a coordinating unit within the Public Health Sector whose mandate is to organize, develop and administer a Tissue Registry, a Diagnosis Registry and a Genealogy Registry and to process applications for permission to study the information contained in said registries.” (Definition taken from the website http://biobank.gov.fo/?lang=en )
A meeting with Guðrið Andorsdóttir, the director of ´llegusavnid, the Genetic Biobank of the Faroe Islands, helps to understand better, why the Faroe Islands are a hot spot in global Genetic Research and therefore attract co-operations and scientists from allover the globe.
The BioBank is open for co-operations and the Faroe Islands are ready to welcome conferences around Genetic research and likewise topics.
The Faroese BioBank has three registries, all of them with different backgrounds:
1) Tissue Registry
2) A Diagnostic Registry and
3) Multi Generation Registry
Wrt, 1) Tissue Registry
“A bio-bank that contains human tissue samples collected from research projects and from people donating tissue to future research.
Tissue: Organic material, e.g. blood from individuals, either living or dead.” (Definition taken from the website http://biobank.gov.fo/?lang=en )
As Guðrið explains, in 2009 a public call went out to the population of the Faroe Islands to go to hospital and have them tested for a rare genetic disease which had occurred to a few people. 33.000 people followed the call and came to the hospital. This was a unique opportunity to start with the BioBank, so all of the people were asked for permission to use the blood test for future research. They left a blood sample which formed the basis for the registry, together with the samples of the Institute for Occupational and Public Health, where Prof. Weihe is doing research into effects of marine diet on pregnant women and their children (a story about this project will follow soon here). The samples are kept and stored in the collaboratory biobanks in Denmark – but all data is digitalized and available for research and sample control against new projects.
Wrt 2) Diagnostic Registry
“A registry of diagnoses that the National Health Care System has compiled (hospitals, primary health sector, pharmacies and dentists).
The Diagnosis Registry contains only the health-related information referenced by the International Classification of Diseases and Health Related Problems plus data acquired directly from the analysis of a tissue sample” (Definition taken from the website http://biobank.gov.fo/?lang=en )
Wrt 3) Genealogy Registry
“A registry of the hereditary relationships among the Faroese. The Genealogy Registry contains information regarding Faroese genealogy from app. Year 1650 to date.“ (Definition taken from the website http://biobank.gov.fo/?lang=en )
This registry is led together with the National Archive and has evaluated old resources like church registers, private pedigrees etc.
Usually a research partner interested in a co-operation comes with an idea to the Biobank. The Research Ethic Committee is to be checked and all necessary data protection issues to be clarified. If both are confirmed, the project can start.
Through such research it was eg found that there is a higher risk for Parkinson but a lower risk for Cancer in the Faroese society. If a research project aims eg to find out if there is a higher risk of Parkinson illness, they need to look into the genes of those who have Parkinson and compare them to “healthy” samples.
The Biobank is open for cooperation with both academic and commercial entities, senior Scientists as well as Students (in medicin, biomedicin, Mol. biology etc.). For further information and inquiry about possible cooperation please fell free to contact:
Guðrið Andorsdóttir, director
Phone: +298 30 47 00
Direct line: +298 30 47 01
Mobile phone: +298 59 10 20
This story is part of the new Ambassador Initiative of Visit Faroe Islands Meetings to share information about leading knowledge clusters on the Islands that might be relevant for international meeting planners and business communities.
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