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Dynamic genomics programme for non-infectious diseases in Tunisia

Diseases that are not infectious – including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes – are the predominant health problem of the 21st century. The Institut Pasteur de Tunis (IPT) has enhanced its research and innovation activities in genomic medicine to investigate these non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Dynamic genomics programme for non-infectious diseases in Tunisia
To rise to the challenge posed by NCDs, the IPT, recognised as a major centre of expertise in infectious diseases, has developed new activities to investigate the genetic basis of diseases caused by mutations in one as well as multiple genes. The EU provided funding for the new IPT initiative through the project GM_NCD_IN_CO (Reinforcing IPT capacities in genomic medicine, non communicable diseases investigation and international cooperation).

Training has been a key feature of this project and two training sessions incorporating theoretical and practical approaches within the European Framework Programme were held. In addition, information days were held on Horizon 2020.

In the genomic realm, courses covered next-generation sequencing, medical genetics and functional genomics. Useful background knowledge was communicated in an 'Introduction to biostatistics and phylogeny' course. A symposium was held on 'Consanguinity and hereditary rare diseases: Challenges and perspectives in post-genomics'.

Two pilot projects incorporated a meta-analysis to determine the Tunisian genetic landscape based on maternal and paternal lineages, as well as bi-parental molecular markers. Interestingly, the study showed peculiarities of Tunisian population allele frequencies for breast cancer. The researchers also evaluated next-generation sequencing for gene identification with promising results regarding exome data in some phenotypes.

Regular communication was provided on the project website. Other media included workshops, meetings and conferences where brochures and presentations spread the research results of the project. The curation of information in relation to specific topics is invited on the Genomedika scoop-it page, and the site has received more than 1 300 visits.

Impact of the GM_NCD_IN_CO project is, and will continue to be, far-reaching. Apart from the improvements in research into genetics of NCDs, other benefits include new networking opportunities in health research, job opportunities incorporating gender equality in Tunisia, improvements in the health of populations and decreased burden of non-infectious diseases.

Related information


Genomics, non-infectious diseases, Tunisia, health, genomic medicine, NCDs, next-generation sequencing
Record Number: 180975 / Last updated on: 2016-04-06
Domain: Biology, Medicine