Over seven thousand volunteers in Cyprus have so far provided a sample of their genetic material to the Biobank, Professor of Medicine and Molecular Genetics at the Medical School of the University of Cyprus and Director of the Center of Excellence for Biobanking and Biomedical Research, Constantinos Deltas, has told the Cyprus News Agency.
In an interview on Friday, on the occasion of World Health Day, Professor Deltas said that through the study of the Biobank research team, diseases were identified in Cyprus, which have not been identified in other populations. Moreover there are diseases that are more common in Cyprus than in the rest of Europe or are rarer in Cyprus than in the rest of the world.
He also explained that studies have shown the existence of diseases that may have started from Cyprus, while a higher frequency of specific diseases was found in many areas of Cyprus. One such example is a hereditary kidney disease that allegedly started in the Troodos villages several generations ago and has spread to other areas of the island.
According to Deltas, this particular disease has also been found in Cypriots living in other countries, such as the UK. Professor Deltas told the Cyprus News Agency that there are some diseases which have certain geographical distribution, which indicates that although Cyprus is a small place, in some areas there is a higher frequency of these diseases than in the rest of the island.
Findings show thalassemia is still very common among Greek Cypriots and according to Dr. Deltas, about one in eight Greek Cypriots is a healthy carrier, which shows that the samples have a relatively good geographical distribution throughout Cyprus.
Furthermore, the Biobank research team has succeeded in the detailed analysis of the DNA of one thousand Cypriots. The figures are being processed and the first results will soon be announced, and will give us a clear idea and a comparison of certain characteristics of Cypriot DNA with other populations.
Professor Deltas said that through these data it will be possible to identify genetic markers and factors of Cypriots and explained that the pathological genetic anatomy of Cypriots will be identified, which will be very useful for many other studies in the future.
Deltas said that it is important to invest in the Biobank because we are investing in a healthier Cyprus. He said that Biobank studies decode the DNA of Cypriots, linking it to diseases and described the Biobank as a pioneer in the field of research.
Volunteers who provide the Biobank with their sample can be healthy or not and the sample is protected in compliance with the general data protection regulation.
Professor Deltas spoke to Cyprus News Agency about the MITOS project which takes samples from volunteers from the general population, healthy or sick, and the first goal is to prepare the genetic profile of Cypriots. The first phase, MITOS 1, has to do with the detailed analysis of the DNA of a thousand Cypriots, which will soon be available.
Other programmes are also running, such as MITOS 2, which will analyse another thousand Cypriots before the end of 2023, and MITOS 3, which will analyze another 1,500 volunteer samples, in a wider context.
Research projects underway are also related to specific diseases, such as hereditary kidney diseases, hereditary heart diseases, chronic vision problems etc and volunteers should be from the areas of occupied Karpasia, Kyrenia, Morphou and Mesaoria.
He also extended an open invitation to Turkish Cypriots to donate samples saying that so far they have taken samples from Maronites, Armenians and Latins on the island.
One can easily participate by making an appointment through the “Biobank.cy” of the University of Cyprus or by calling 77771838.