NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – BC Platforms and Microsoft have agreed to work together to provide cloud-based genomic data management solutions for Codigo 46, a commercial laboratory established in Mexico that seeks to build and maintain what is expected to be the largest biobank of genotype information in Latin America.
Codigo — which means Code in Spanish — is building the bank in collaboration with Mexican health and research authorities. Over the next three years, the company and its partners hope to genotype one million Mexican patients. They hope to eventually expand the biobank to include genotype and phenotype data from participants in other Latin American countries including Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil, Codigo CEO Lorenza Haddad told GenomeWeb.
The ultimate goal is to be able to build a database of the Latin American genotype, which is currently understudied, she said. Currently, most tests done on Latin American populations compare their data to European samples, but differences in the genetic make-up of the two populations as well as differences within populations with ethnic Mexican ancestry could confound those results, she said.
Through this initiative “we want to translate the technologies that have been developed outside of Mexico … and [use them to] start producing knowledge and technologies within Mexico and other Latin American countries,” Haddad said.
Initially, Codigo and its partners will focus on recruiting patients with metabolic diseases such as diabetes and associated complications, but they hope to expand that to explore hereditary cancers and psychiatric disorders in the patient population. According to Haddad, diabetes is of immediate interest because it is the second-leading cause of death in Mexico and a major cause of disabilities in later life.
Currently, an estimated 15 percent of the Mexican population has diabetes, although only about 10 percent of those cases have actually been diagnosed. “There’s a huge percentage of the population that is not treated and [whose] diabetes is not controlled,” Haddad said. And those numbers are expected to grow as obesity rates in the country rise. Currently, about 15 percent of the country’s federal health budget is spent on diabetes, so “it’s a huge issue,” she said.
Codigo 46 and its partners have begun recruiting and collecting saliva samples from the first set of patients from local hospitals and health centers — members of the public in Mexico can also contribute samples to the biobank as well. Codigo hopes to recruit and genotype as many as 150,000 participants — both adult and children — within the first year of the project, according to Haddad. They will use a customized version of Illumina’s global screening array that will cover 50,000 SNPs to genotype patients. The array is currently being developing with several genetics researchers in Mexico who have expertise in the disease areas of interest to Codigo, she said.
In some cases Codigo will accept data from patients who have been genotyped in the past, however, it may re-genotype some patients if their previous testing focused only on specific SNPs and was not as comprehensive as the current project requires, Haddad said. The partners will also collect phenotype data from each patient, she said. In return for their contributions to the Codigo bank, patients who have the diseases of interest will receive personal pharmacogenomics profiles that they can share with their clinicians. Non-clinical contributors will receive ancestry profiles as well as some details about their risk for certain diseases.