Nigerian health startup 54gene launches genomics research initiative

By February 10, 2020 February 20th, 2020 News

54gene, a Nigerian health startup majoring in genomics research and services and beneficiary of Google Launchpad Africa accelerator is launching Africa’s first DNA data bank, African Centre for Translational Genomics (ACTG), an initiative established to facilitate translational genomics research by African scientists.

ACTG is now looked at to facilitate genomic scientists’ research across the continent through grants, fellowship, and internships for medical research and training sessions.

It was reported in July, that the Nigerian Health startup had raised a US$4.5 million seed round to allow it to build the first African DNA biobank. The US$4.5 million investment came from Y Combinator, Fifty Years, Better Ventures, KdT Ventures, Hack VC and Techammer, among others. The funds will help the data bank install electronic data capture systems, set up in various leading tertiary hospitals, and also expand to beyond Nigeria.

“In continuation with our belief at 54gene that genetic research in Africa should be ethical and beneficial to the communities we serve, and that African scientists be at the forefront of new drug discoveries that benefit Africans and the world at large, we have set up the ACTG to harness translational genetic research across Africa,” said 54gene founder Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong.

“The NCD-GHS study is our pilot effort under the ACTG that has the potential to rewrite the playbook of genomics research, where African scientists will be placed at the forefront of new drug discoveries for conditions that affect the health of not only Nigerians but greater Africa and the world.”

“The genomic revolution has taken place everywhere except for Africa; home to more than one billion people, and the very birthplace of humankind. What many people don’t realize is how genetically diverse Africa is, and that Africans have married within their tribes for thousands of years, which makes our DNA ideal for studying loss-of-function type mutations that can be replicated into new drugs. We believe this will be done through partnering with pharmaceutical industry players to drive groundbreaking research and layering a data science capability on the data being collected,” said Abasi Ene-Obong, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of 54gene after the US $ 4.5 million seed round in June.