Scientists to create “DNA map” of Poland to help in fight against cancer

Over 50 scientists will work on the creation of the "genetic map" of Poland. DNA Research Center

Members of the public are being asked to volunteer to help scientists in the creation of a “DNA map” of the country that will improve their capabilities when it comes to fighting serious diseases.

The DNA Research Centre, together with the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry at the Technical University of Poznań will create a so-called “genom,” a genetic sample of an average resident of Poland. The DNA sample will be generated from genetic data collected from 5,000 volunteers.

Recruitment for the ground-breaking project starts in December.

“For the first time in the history of Polish genetics we will carry out a project that will reveal the DNA ‘shape’ of people living in different parts of the country,” Jacek Wojciechowicz, director of the Research and Development Department at the DNA Centre told TFN. “It is also the most expensive project, in terms of grant size, with the Ministry of Science and Education providing over PLN 100 million.”

Creating a genom starts with collecting a blood sample, which is then subjected to a complexed research process.DNA Research Center

The generated genetic sample (genom) should provide scientists with a significant source of information when it comes the causes of cancer and other genetically determined diseases.

“The Polish population is relatively different genetically to the inhabitants of Great Britain, Africa or America,” Wojciechowicz explains. “We must create our own model to better identify dangerous mutations in the body.” 

Not only will the map help make diagnosis easier but it should also improve treatment. “It will help doctors select a more personalized type of therapy for a specific patient and the appropriate medicines,” Professor Paweł Golik, from the Institute of Genetics and Biotechnology, University of Warsaw, told TFN.

The DNA of 5,000 Poles will be used to create the map, making Poland one of only a handful of countries in the world to possess one.Fotolia

Since people from different regions of the world react differently to the same medicines and drugs the Polish genetic database will also be very useful for pharmaceutical companies, but they will have to pay for access to it.

For all other scientific use the database will be available free of charge.

“The genetic data of the Poles, which will be sold to the pharma industry or transferred to scientists, will be in encoded and anonymous,” assures Wojciechowicz. “It won’t be possible to link the genome to a specific person.”

Poland will join the USA, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia and Iceland in the handful of countries worldwide that have this “genetic tool”. The DNA database will also reveal much about the origins of Poles and where their ancestors came from.