54gene, a U.S.- and Nigeria-based health technology company whose mission is to advance precision medicine capabilities in Africa through research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and clinical programs, has unveiled its new genomics facility in Lagos, Nigeria.
54gene is named after the 54 countries in Africa, and was started in 2019 by founder and CEO, Abasi Ene-Obong, PhD. The company had announced its collaboration with Illumina to create the genomics facility in September 2020. With a new year, the facility is now up and running and looking to improve healthcare and bridge the gap in 2021 and beyond.
The new genetics facility in Lagos is equipped with a suite of Illumina’s sequencing and high-density microarray technology platforms. Through the partnership, tissue samples can be analyzed locally, which will reduce costs and turnaround time for test results. 54gene’s sequencing-based research and molecular diagnostics capabilities will also be expanded. The new facility hosts a suite of molecular genomics capabilities, including the Illumina Novaseq 6000 and NextSeq 550Dx.
54gene is actively conducting research to discover novel biological insights based on genetic modifiers, which will allow the company’s researchers to determine the underlying drivers of infectious and noncommunicable diseases prevalent on the African continent as well as genetic variants unique to its population.
“This is quite an impressive setup, and I am happy that 54gene has chosen Lagos as its base,” commented the Commissioner of Health for Lagos State, Emmanuel Akinola Abayomi. “I believe this is going to be a mutually beneficial arrangement as Lagos is keen to promote a medical innovation hub in the State. We will continue to create an enabling environment for the private sector, like 54gene, to flourish, while ensuring that the public’s interests are adequately protected. We look forward to partnering with 54gene and other stakeholders alike to power innovation and a sustainable bio-economy.”
Since the start of the company in 2019, 54gene has been making great strides to address the significant gap in the global genomics market. “Over the last two years, our growth has been underpinned by a supremely experienced world-class team, and the collaboration of key stakeholders on the continent,” stated Ene-Obong. “I am proud of the impact our work is making scientifically and economically on the African continent and globally; and the many scientists around the world, who collaborate with 54gene.
Although the genomics facility in Lagos will help to address the health disparities in Africa, 54gene is setting its sights on a global scale. “Our vision is not just to address the health disparities in Africa but to distinctly advance research in some of the most common and rare diseases that affect the global population. To do this we need to scale our operations and continue to collaborate on cutting-edge research. The possibilities are immense and we look forward to expanding this impact even more,” added Ene-Obong.
The company’s work and vision come at a time when it is greatly needed. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, shows the importance of precision medicine approach on health disparities and the need for worldwide genomics research.
The new lab strengthens 54gene’s capacity to enable more research that yields insights from the world’s most diverse populations to solve some of the biggest global healthcare challenges. It is just the beginning of 2021, but with the news of the genomics facility completed, 54gene has hit the ground the running and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.