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UK DNA banking network

The MRC’s national DNA Banking Network is a project to collect, store and study DNA samples from tens of thousands of healthy volunteers and patients with diseases of major public importance. It aims to identify genes that are risk factors for the conditions.

Network members

The network consists of 13 collections led by different clinicians throughout the UK. At its heart is an archive infrastructure which manages the DNA and the information associated with it.

The European Collection of Cell Cultures in Porton Down handles the blood, peripheral blood lymphocytes and EBV-transformed cell lines, while the Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research at Manchester University manages the DNA.

These banked samples are available to UK and international researchers, who can examine data and set up collaborative work by registering at the CIGMR Biobank website.

Background

The UK DNA Banking Network was initiated in 2000, three years before the final human genome sequence was published, after the MRC recognised that once this ground-breaking knowledge was published genetic epidemiology would be needed to translate it into human health benefits.

The first stage involved collecting blood samples from 40,000 patients and volunteers, which was supported by £8 million of MRC funding.

Next, the MRC provided £2 million to set up the archiving infrastructure to support the management of samples and data.

The third step involved setting up the network itself, including a secure website to enable researcher-collector collaboration.

The conditions for which samples are currently collected and stored are:

  • Acute leukaemia
  • Asthma and eczema
  • Late onset Alzheimer’s disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Hypertension
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Unipolar depression