In an effort to develop the personalised medicine capability within its national healthcare system, Estonia has begun a program to recruit and genotype 100,000 new biobank participants.
The Estonian government is offering the service for free, with the genome-wide genotyping to be translated into personalised reports for use in everyday medical practice via the national eHealth portal, the Ministry of Social Affairs has announced.
The country already has many encrypted digital solutions incorporated into government functions that link the nation's various databases via end-to-end encrypted pathways.
This latest initiative, which forms part of the country’s National Personalised Medicine program, is a joint development project of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Institute for Health Development and the Estonian Genome Centre at the University of Tartu, which has maintained and studied the DNA of Estonia's first 50,000 biobank participants.
"Today we have enough knowledge about both the genetic risk of complex diseases and the inter-individual variability of the effects of medicines in order to begin systematically utilising this information in everyday healthcare," said Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski.
"In cooperation with the NIHD and the University of Tartu, we will enable another 100,000 people to join the Estonian Biobank in order to boost the development of personalised medicine in Estonia and thus contribute to the advancement of preventive healthcare," he said.
"As the technology provider for the Estonian Genome Centre, Illumina is delighted that this ambitious project has reached this stage," said Paula Dowdy, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the US-headquartered company.
"Using our Infinium Global Screening Array to further develop personalised medicine in Estonia will provide physicians with genomic information that will lead to better health outcomes in the future."
Estonian Genome Centre director Andres Metspalu welcomed the Estonian ministry's initiative to increase the number of biobank participants.
"We are glad that, with the support of this project, the results of the long-term work of the Genome Centre will be transferred into practical medicine, and it will also give a further boost to our future research," Metspalu said.
"The university will also contribute to the creation of a feedback system for biobank participants as well as to training healthcare professionals in providing patients with feedback based on their genetic information."
The Estonian government has allocated €5m towards the project this year. It will be co-ordinated by the NIHD, whose task is to develop and implement procedures and principles for the effective implementation of scientific research in medicine and implemented according to Estonia's Human Genes Research Act.
Sample collection will begin on April 2.
Originally published on Healthcare IT News Australia’s sister publication HIMSS Insights.