Wed, 30 Nov 2022

CANBERRA, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Researchers will create a DNA database of Indigenous Australians in a bid to improve health outcomes.

According to experts from Australian National University (ANU), the database will improve diagnoses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with rare genetic disorders.

Led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (GIMR) and ANU National Center for Indigenous Genomics (NCIG), researchers are aiming to collect DNA samples from 500 Indigenous people across eight communities in northern and central Australia.

Australia's most powerful supercomputer at ANU's National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) will then be used to identify genes that contribute to illnesses in Indigenous people.

"Through collaboration and partnership with Indigenous communities and researchers, this project will help us identify the harmful variants among Australia's First Nations peoples to ensure they receive the correct diagnosis as soon as possible and can better manage their unique health risks," project leader Ira Deveson said in a media release.

The project has been funded with a 986,000 Australian dollar (about 639,722 U.S. dollars) grant from the federal government's Futures Fund.

By improving diagnoses for Indigenous Australians, patients can receive early treatment to better manage symptoms.

According to a report published by the government of the Northern Territory (NT) in July, life expectancy for Indigenous Australians was 69.7 years for females and 65.6 years for males in 2018 compared to 85.1 and 81 years for non-Indigenous females and males, respectively.

"This is a unique opportunity to address this representation gap in genomic datasets to reduce health disparities between Australia's Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities," Hardip Patel, the bioinformatics lead at NCIG, said.

"This project will generate datasets for First Nations peoples to help doctors provide a timely diagnosis to patients and improve health outcomes for them."

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