NOWAC is the first prospective study with a globolomic design. This is an extension of the current cohort study with its questionnaire information and biological material for analysis of biomarkers, proteomics and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The design of NOWAC adds biological material for analysis of the transcriptome in prospectively collected buffered peripheral blood samples, the postgenome biobank. Further, both peripheral blood and tumor tissue are collected from breast cancer patients diagnosed within the cohort together with matched controls. The latter biological material gives a new multidimensional design with a unique biological material at the end-point. The transcriptomic analysis will include both mRNA and miRNA as new technology (microarray and massive parallel sequencing) allows large scale studies. miRNAs could be promising markers for pathways analysis related to the carcinogenic process and for diagnosis and screening tests of breast cancer. These high-troughput technologies have analyses challenges both in bioinformatics and biostatistics therefore success depends on the development of new analytical strategies.This novel design is the observational counterpart to systems biology, or systems epidemiology. Systems epidemiology will seek to understand biological processes by integrating observational derived pathways information into the current prospective design. A true interdisciplinary approach has been implemented. The upside is the potential for an improved understanding of causality in epidemiology by opening up for quantification of traditional criteria of biological plausibility in a more complete biological model. The postgenome biobank with 50 000 participants out of the 172 000 participants in NOWAC and its unique national design and richness of biological material makes it a very strong case for interdisciplinary collaboration based on a population-based study representative of the real and complex lifestyle environment.
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