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article imageUK Biotech company buys 'biobank' of Sardinian DNA samples

By Karen Graham     Jul 21, 2016 in Science
A British biotech company is hoping that a genetic study of a population in Ogliastra, a province in eastern Sardinia, will help in our understanding of aging and diseases.
London-based Tiziana Life Sciences just paid more than $280,000 (£217,000) for a "biobank" of DNA samples from Shardna, a biobanking and genomics research company located in Cagliari, Sardinia.
The collection of DNA samples from people living in the province of Ogliastra is very unique, representing a homogeneous and well-characterised population, with genealogy data going back over 400 years. The data is supplemented with genotyping and clinical status records.
94-year-old Angelo lives in Sardinia s  Blue Zone.
94-year-old Angelo lives in Sardinia's "Blue Zone."
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According to The Guardian, Tiziana’s Napoleone Ferrara, says that with the acquisition of Shardna's collection of DNA samples, additional studies could "advance our understanding of aging and other key pathophysiological processes and potentially result in diagnostic and therapeutic advances."
Ogliastra's unique population
Ogliastra is one of eight provinces in Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most geologically ancient bodies of land in Europe. Ogliastra is on the Eastern coast of the island and is the most mountainous of Sardinia's provinces, and the least populated.
Tiziana's Chairman and founder, Gabriele Cerrone, said in a statement that Sardinia is one of only three regions in the world with an exceptionally high proportion of centenarians. The prevalence of centenarians in Ogilastra is 50 times that of the U.S. or U.K., having the second highest longevity after Okinawa Island, Japan.
Ogliastra and its neighboring province of Nuoro share a longevity “Blue Zone” within a mountainous region of Sardinia. In this region, villages are very isolated, suggesting a “high rate of inbreeding” and a low immigration rate.
This could explain the development of a genetic pool in which the population has become resistant to certain diseases. A 2004 study discovered that longevity was about equal for both men and women in the province, as 47 male centenarians and 44 female centenarians have been found.
Tiziana Life Sciences says the biobank will give them the opportunity to generate valuable insights into gene regulatory networks, genotype-phenotype linkage and gene-environment interactions that will feed into and inform the company's drug discovery and diagnostic programs.
More about biobank, dna samples, aging and disease, Sardinia, Centenarians
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