Recently launched Nigeria-based startup, 54gene is considered to be the most exciting and innovative start-ups to come out of Africa. The basic aim of 54gene is to address the significant gap in the global Genomics market where the pharmaceutical researches use almost 90% of the genetic material from Caucasian region and less than 3% from Africa. This statistic is prevalent despite research saying that Africans and people of African ancestry are genetically more diverse than all other world populations combined and also less than 1% of global drug recovery happens in Africa. 54gene seeks to solve this problem by including the underrepresented Africans in Global Genomics research.
Presently the company has operations in Nigeria, Africa and United States of America. When African population is not included proportionately in research, then we see potentially sub-optimal treatment outcomes as a result of which one cannot expect good health outcomes for them. It has been proven that when Africa is properly included and made to participate in research it produces better treatment and diagnostic outcomes in the long run.
54gene is a health technology company which is deriving insights from the world’s most diverse populations i.e African to solve some of the biggest challenges in the healthcare sector. It is more than just a Biobank wherein it wants to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to advance basic research and not just sell anything and everything in the market. Since there are no pharmaceutical companies located on the continent, 54gene intends to facilitate these companies working in various locations of Africa. 54gene also runs clinical programs that help to test drugs and treatments that ensure that they have optimal medicines for their population.
The spread of COVID-19 pandemic is proving that research needs to be carried out inclusively leaving no population unrepresented proportionately as we have witnessed that covid has shown disparities on how it affected different populations. By getting diverse participants into research a broader picture of treatment and diagnostics can be developed to help get better health outcomes.
In 2021, 54gene has also launched its first whole genome sequencing laboratory with the help of American Biotech company, Illumina. The facility will now enable them to sequence and generate the data which informs whether or not any variance is noticed and then such observations can lead to well-regarded publications. 54gene seems to be a very promising endeavour which will represent what true Africa is to the world in the healthcare domain with the aim of improving lives of many Africans witnessing better health outcomes.