Launched in December 2017, FinnGen is an unprecedented genomic research project with global goals, based on cooperation between Finnish institutions and seven international pharmaceutical companies. Combining genome information with digital healthcare data – and with a plan to tap into 500,000 unique blood samples collected by Finnish biobanks – FinnGen hopes to identify new therapeutic targets and diagnostics for treating numerous diseases.
“Future health innovations can primarily be found by looking at large masses. The FinnGen study has the potential to benefit global healthcare systems long into the future. We hope that this study will stimulate researchers and businesses from around the world to join the journey into personalised healthcare,” says FinnGen’s Scientific Director Aarno Palotie, from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki.
According to FinnGen, the data created during the study can be used for prioritising drug targets based on genomic information, enabling more efficient drug development pipelines and better individualized drug treatment choices. The study will also boost the activities of Finnish biobanks by speeding up sample collection and enabling enrichment of samples with genomic data.
Collaborative public-private approach
FinnGen brings together Finnish universities, hospitals and hospital districts, the National Institute for Health and Welfare,
Blood Service, biobanks and major pharmaceutical companies. The six-year project has a budget of EUR 59 million and is
coordinated by the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital.
Business Finland is providing EUR 20 million of the funding and the rest comes from the pharmaceutical companies AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Celgene, Genentech (member of the Roche Group), Merck & Co and Pfizer.
FinnGen views collaboration as the key to speeding up innovation and achieving breakthroughs in disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Its public-private collaboration model is exceptional compared to many other ongoing studies.
Tapping into Finland’s unique gene pool
The goal of half a million blood samples, covering almost 10% of Finland’s population, makes FinnGen one of the most extensive studies of its kind, and unprecedented in terms of its national representativeness.