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China's first gene bank to open in Shenzhen

(People's Daily Online) Updated: 2016-09-21 11:05 Comments

China's first gene bank to open in Shenzhen

The photo taken on Sept 6, 2016, shows China's first national gene bank, China National Genebank, in the southern city of Shenzhen. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's first national gene bank, China National Genebank, will open in the southern city of Shenzhen on Sept 22, with the goal of protecting, researching and utilizing genetic resources, Nanfang Daily reported. The gene bank hopes to boost the genetics industry and safeguard China's genetic information.

The new gene bank is outfitted with dozens of refrigerators to store samples, as well as 150 domestically developed desktop gene sequencing machines. The bank will work to restore global biological samples and data. A total of 10 million samples are currently stored in the bank, according to the report.

The national gene pool consists of a biological information database and biological sample library. It can support a total of 60PB of gene data access. If a film is 500MB, then that amount is equal to 128 million pieces of film.

The gene bank in Shenzhen is the world's fourth national-level gene bank, followed by predecessors in the US, Europe and Japan. Different from the other three gene banks, China's not only consistently produces data, it also focuses on data research and usage.

"We hope to make the gene bank China's – and even the world's – biggest biological information data center, like a Google but in the field of life and health data," said Mei Yonghong, director of the China National Genebank and chairman and CEO of Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) Agriculture Group.

The gene bank was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the National Health and Family Planning Commission in October 2011. It is supported by China-based genome sequencing firm BGI.

Before the establishment of the gene bank, gene data produced by China was stored in three international databases: the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the US, the European Bioinformatics Institute in the UK and the DNA Data Bank of Japan. It is of great importance to preserve gene data in the country of its origin, as such data can be regarded as part of national strategy.

The report stated that the gene bank will announce a cooperative project with Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secure seed bank of Norway, on Sept 22.

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