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Posted 09 September 2010

Irish person’s genetic code sequenced for first time

The complete genetic code of an Irish person has been sequenced for the first time. According to the findings published in the journal Genome Biology, the DNA of the anonymous individual with an Irish ancestry of three generations was shown to possess 400,000 novel mutations of single DNA bases. Almost 8,000 of these appear to be inherited along with genes known to influence disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease.

“By adding these Irish DNA variants to international DNA databases, which currently lack an Irish representative, scientists can start to identify why Irish people are more susceptible to certain diseases,” says Professor Brendan Loftus from the UCD Conway Institute, University College Dublin, who led the research team.

Pictured far right: Prof Brendan Loftus shows a flow cell containing DNA code from the first Irish genome at UCD Conway Institute yesterday. He led the research team that deciphered the first Irish genome at UCD Conway Institute. Photo by Frank Miller courtesy of The Irish Times

With its isolated geography, its ancestral impact on further populations, and a high prevalence of a number of diseases, the genetics of the Irish population is of interest to biomedical researchers across the globe.

Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, Professor Loftus’ laboratory used pair- and single-ended Illumina short read sequencing, one of the next generation sequencing approaches, to create 9 DNA sequence libraries, which were overlaid to generate a high quality genome sequence with 11-fold coverage.

The scientific analyses were conducted with collaborators from Trinity College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI), Beaumont hospital, the MRC Human Genetics Unit and University of Edinburgh.

It took the scientific team led by UCD just over 12 months to sequence the first complete Irish human genome at a cost of €30,000. This shows the stellar advances made in this area of science since the first full sequence of human DNA was published in the United States in 2003, at a cost of €2.7 billion following 13 years of research.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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Picturd far right: Batt O’Keeffe, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation; Frank Ryan, CEO Enterprise Ireland; Prof. Frank Roche, Director UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School; Graduate, Niamh Roddy