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Eesti geenivaramu

Estonian Biobank launched a portal for more than 210,000 biobank participants

On 11 June, the Estonian Biobank, University of Tartu, launched the portal MinuGeenivaramu, which gives biobank participants personalised information on their genetic predisposition to diseases, compatibility of medicines and ancestry information. The portal also contains questionnaires for the collection of data from users for research. 

The research portal provides the biobank participants with personalised information on their predisposition to type II diabetes and coronary artery disease, caffeine metabolism, genetic origin, and pharmacogenetic reports. The results are returned in a manner that explains how genes influence a person’s health and how lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of disease. “We are extremely grateful to all biobank participants who have contributed to the advancement of genetic research internationally,” said Lili Milani, Head of the Estonian Biobank. “As a result of the dedicated work of the researchers at the Institute of Genomics at the University of Tartu, we are finally ready to offer biobank participants information that will help them address health risks early and learn more about their ancestry.”  

Almost a fifth of Estonian adults, or more than 210,000 people, have joined the Estonian Biobank. The first 10,000 biobank participants were invited to test the portal during the spring, and now the rest have also received access to their personalised reports. As a part of the portal, questionnaires are used to collect data for research on how participants perceive the results, and how genetic data can influence people’s future behaviour. “We aim to bring the biobank closer to people,” said Mait Metspalu, Director of the Institute of Genomics at the University of Tartu. “We want to let people know what research has found about their genes, and we also want to make participation in research easier for them.”  

One of the goals of the biobank participant portal is to influence people’s health behaviour in a way that helps them reduce their risk of diseases. The risk assessment models used in the portal have been adapted for the Estonian population and are, therefore, different from those used elsewhere in the world. Minister of Health Riina Sikkut says human genetic data has great potential for science, innovation and healthcare. However, it is essential to use them so that people’s fundamental rights are protected, and the reliability, quality and security of the genetic data are ensured. “The continued development of personalised medicine provides us with entirely new opportunities to prevent disease and extend healthy and productive lives through personal motivation. It is therefore important that such solutions, risk models and pharmacogenetics services are are made available for people and in healthcare,” said Sikkut. 

Biobank participants can log in to the portal using their ID-card, mobile-ID or Smart-ID. The portal is currently only available in Estonian.  

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