ImpactAlpha, July 3 – Most human genomics data used to advance drug therapies and medical research is based on Caucasian DNA samples, which represents an increasingly small share of the global population.
To diversify medical and health discoveries, Nigerian startup 54gene has raised $4.5 million in funding to build an African DNA biobank and is seeking 40,000 samples this year.
“The genomic revolution has taken place everywhere except for Africa,” said 54gene’s Abasi Ene-Obong. “What many people don’t realize is how genetically diverse Africa is… which makes our DNA ideal for studying loss-of-function type mutations that can be replicated into new drugs.”
Launched six months ago by diagnostics startup Stack dx, the company is partnering with 10 hospitals in Nigeria in research on oncology, cardiology, neurology, endocrinology and sickle cell disease.
54gene, part of the Y Combinator accelerator, also is backed by Fifty Years, Better Ventures, KdT Ventures, Hack VC and Techammer.