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Sardinian biobank sold to UK company

Staff Writer |
Tiziana Life Sciences has purchased key assets from Shardna SpA, a biobanking and genomics research company located in Cagliari, Sardinia, for a total value of €258,000.

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Tiziana has also established an Italian subsidiary in Sardinia, LonGevia Genomics Srl, specifically to develop these assets to identify novel drug targets and diagnostic applications, through integration with its global research network.

"Sardinia is renowned as one of only three regions in the world with an exceptionally high proportion of centenarians," commented Tiziana's Chairman and founder, Gabriele Cerrone, "This transaction provides access to a unique bio-repository, which we can now leverage and combine the massive power and low cost of next generation gene sequencing with the full complement of "-omics" technologies.

The Shardna biobank, one of the largest and oldest in the world, includes 230,000 biological samples, from the almost 13,000 fully genealogically linked residents of the Ogliastra region of Sardinia.

This genetically homogenous community has certified record data that traces back genealogy over four hundred years and is supplemented with genotyping data and clinical status. This high level of characterisation within the well-maintained records has resulted in a biobank that is a uniquely rich and a potentially valuable source of scientific data.

In recent years a number of biobank assets have been consolidated and vertically integrated with genomics, diagnostic, and pharmaceutical/biotech companies that are vying to control access to samples of value for drug development. For example, deCODE Genetics, the Iceland-based genomics and biobank company was bought by Amgen for approximately $415M.

This Ogliastra region of Sardinia has a prevalence of centenarians almost fifty times that of the US or UK. Indeed inhabitants have the second highest longevity after Okinawa Island, Japan.

The longevity "Blue Zone" located in the provinces of Ogliastra and Nuoro in the mountainous region of Sardinia, where villages have been isolated for centuries, shows a value of the Extreme Longevity Index computed for the newborns between 1880 and 1900 that is more than twice as high as that of whole Sardinia.

Strikingly the female/male ratio among centenarians in this population is close to one, as 47 male centenarians and 44 female centenarians were found.

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