- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Medical facilities around the world have partnered for a massive research project that starts by sharing thousands of patients’ genetic and health information.

The project involves 60 institutions in Europe, North America and Asia, the Guardian reported. The goal is to “dramatically accelerate medical progress” by sharing data, a white paper distributed to the 60 key players stated. Doctors expect the project could shed light of a range of diseases and illnesses, from cancer to infections, and also inform on how certain drugs and medications work.

The project — called the Global Alliance — is akin to the World Wide Web, the Guardian reported, in that information collected will be readily available, at a second’s notice, to all the other participants in the global research partnership. Information stored on the Global Alliance will not be open to the public, however.

“We are forming a partnership with a large number of organizations to work on how we can aggregate and share anonymous data on individuals and patients, their genomes and clinical data, to extract knowledge to benefit human health,” said one project leader, Mike Stratton, in the Guardian.

He said the need for the project is due to the rapid changes in sequencing technology in the past few years.

“We can now sequence a million times as much DNA for the same cost as we could ten years ago,” Mr. Stratton said in the Guardian. “But what we’re finding is we need to share our data to maximize the knowledge we gain.”

One major issue the Global Alliance faces is developing patient confidence that the information that’s collected will be kept confidential, the Guardian reported.