Health Equity Challenges: 54gene wants to address the lack of African genetic data in Clinical Research Trials. Part 1

Now over 21 years into the 21st century, progressive healthcare is re-imagining a world where precision medicine is equalized, giving the potential for people of all ethnic backgrounds to live longer.

CEO Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong professes that “less than 3% of genomic data represented in research is from African populations.” What are the implications? I read about Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong in an article by Walt (August 7, 2022) in TIME Magazine. The company 54gene wants to address the lack of African genetic data (genome) in biopharma research to have the most effective drugs to cure diseases that plague all people. The CEO of 54gene created his company because it represents the efforts of 54 African countries.

Now over 21 years into the 21st century, progressive healthcare is re-imagining a world where precision medicine is equalized, giving the potential for people of all ethnic backgrounds to live longer. Unfortunately, for decades therapeutic drugs and vaccines typically have not included a diverse population of people. Typically, clinical trials have focused more on Caucasian patients for many therapeutics and vaccines. Walt (August 7, 2022) points out that when predominantly Caucasian populations are studied, some crucial components of non-Caucasian people can be overlooked. For example, the University of

Chicago looked at breast cancers amongst Yoruba women; the drugs we’ve been using to treat breast cancer and the diagnosis may not have been accurate for this mutation.

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong says, “our mission is to deliver on the promise of precision medicine for Africans and the global population by bridging the disparity gap in genomics data.” The work will impact all African people, whether in Africa, France, the U.K., the U.S., Brazil, or the Caribbean. Many of them historically came from West Africa. In a recent interview, Maynard (August 31, 2022) highlights Nigel F. Maynard, editor in chief and editorial director of Drug Store News, dialogue with Tony Clapsis, senior vice president of Clinical Trial Services at CVS Health.

Maynard (August 31, 2022) points out that CVS research for diversity has been going on for the last ten years, but the reach and the effect may not have been broad enough. The real focus is the question of the kind of problem we’re trying to solve and the role that retail pharmacies and clinics can play in solving it. I think it helped broadly you know our members are consumers. Still, the public understands the importance and value of clinical research but also highlights some core and longstanding challenges in executing that research. For example, most Americans have never been offered the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.

References:

Maynard, N.F. (August 31, 2022). Watch DSN: CVS Health’s Tony Clapsis highlights importance of clinical research. Watch DSN: CVS Health’s Tony Clapsis highlights importance of clinical research | Drug Store News

Walt, V. (August 7, 2022). 54gene’s CEO Abasi Ene-Obong Wants to Fix the Racial Imbalance in Health Data. 54gene’s CEO Wants to Fix Health Data’s Racial Imbalance | Time

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