N.L. biotech looking for family doctors and 2500 people to volunteer their genetic & medical info for research

A Newfoundland & Labrador biotech firm is looking for 2,500 people to volunteer their genetic & medical information for research which seeks to develop novel treatments for common illnesses.

The Chief Executive Officer of Sequence Bio, Chris Gardner stated that we are in the search for drug targets. Meaning, if we can identify particular changes to the genetic code which can be treated with a drug, that’s what we will contribute to, and this is a global industry.

The announcement followed the rejection of two of Sequence Bio’s prior research projects by the provincial authority which examines human research proposals in Newfoundland & Labrador. The Health Research Ethics Board was established by provincial legislation to make sure that all human research in Newfoundland & Labrador is done ethically.

Garner stated that the firm wants to put that behind it. I think innovation is no less than a challenge and for those of us who are new to space, sometimes we’ve to push people, whether that’s making sure the law is interpreted correctly or making sure people understand what we are doing.

Sequence Bio has recruited 3 family doctors this summer on the Avalon Peninsula to help it find NL Genome Project volunteers.

300 people have already agreed to share their genetic & medical information. Gardner stated that the firm is hoping to work with as many as 10 family doctors by the fall of 2019.

The firm stated that it will maintain complete control of the information it gathers, however, it is using an Ontario laboratory, The Centre for Applied Genomics in Toronto, for doing some work for it.

Newfoundland is one amongst a dozen places in the world which has what genetic researchers call a ‘founder population’; a relatively homogenous population which can trace families, their illnesses, their members, back through many generations.