17. October 2011 23:00
The Faroe Islands is to become the first country in the world to read the entire DNA code of every willing citizen, it was announced Friday.
All 50,000 of the inhabitants on the islands, which are part of Denmark, will be invited to have their genomes sequenced and linked to their medical records, in an ambitious project that could lead to a new era of personalized medicine.
Doctors plan to use individuals' DNA to tailor healthcare and predict and reduce patients' risks of developing certain diseases.
Bogi Eliasen, the program manager at the Faroes' Department of Health, said, "The Faroes will be the first nation in the world to create a resource like this for public health. But we aren't just doing it to be first. The goal is to make genomic information useful to our citizens."
Around 100 people who are likely to be chosen at random will be sequenced this year. The project will then be extended to 1,000 people, followed by the whole population, with the aim of sequencing everybody within five years.
The full project, which is expected to cost around 257 million Danish kroner ($47 million), involves scientists from Baylor University, Texas and from the UK's University of Oxford.