The data created during the study will be used for prioritising drug targets based on genomic information, enabling more efficient drug development pipelines and better individualized drug treatment choices. FinnGen aims to open new possibilities for domestic biotechnology companies, several of which have already expressed interest, and the Finnish business environment.
The FinnGen study plans to analyse up to 500 000 unique blood samples collected by a nation-wide network of Finnish biobanks. The goal is to deepen our understanding about the origins of diseases and their treatment. The project is expected to continue for ten years, with a current budget of €59M. Funding comes from seven international pharmaceutical companies and Business Finland. The active phase during which biobank samples are collected and genotyped is planned to continue for six years.
FinnGen capitalizes on Finland’s decades-long investments in Finnish health care, health registries, epidemiological research, and biobanks. Recent modernization of the regulatory environment (e.g. the Biobank act and the bill on Secondary usage of registry data) enables extensive utilization of national sample cohorts to advance medical research, patient care, and drug development.
FinnGen will utilize the extensive longitudinal registry data available on all Finns. The opportunity to define informative and multi-dimensional phenotypes from this data is the key element of FinnGen. Combining data from different registries provides opportunities to construct reliable disease endpoints as well as novel long-term phenotypes of disease progression and therapeutic response. FinnGen has organized a clinical team and working working groups around key clinical areas of focus shared by many partners in conjunction with Finnish clinical experts to develop these phenotypes in more detail.
The FinnGen will manage anonymous health registry and genomic data without compromising the privacy and integrity of participants. The project will also develop imputation methods that enable achieving near-complete genome variant information without whole genome sequencing. The unique history of the Finnish population makes this a realistic aim. The genomic data produced during the project will be returned to Finnish biobanks, providing the basis for new industrial partnerships, drug trials, monitoring studies, and other private-public projects.