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Slim Initiative in Genomic Medicine

Background

 
In 2010 Carlos Slim Foundation and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University joined forces to launch the Carlos Slim Center for Health Research at the Broad Institute. This unprecedented alliance was aimed to ensure that the Mexican and Latin American population receives the benefits of the genomic revolution.
 

A High percentage of Mexico's population suffer from diseases that have a genetic component. For example, 14% of the adult population has diabetes and it is considered the leading cause of death in the country. It is estimated that an average of 80,000 deaths per year are due to this condition.

Likewise, in Latin America, the highest prevalence rates of diabetes are in Belize (12.4%) and Mexico (10.7%).
On the other hand, cancer has become one of the leading causes of mortality in the Americas. In 2012 alone, it caused 1.3 million deaths, 47% of which occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It is estimated that cancer mortality in the region will increase to 2.1 million by 2030..

Solution

In response to this problem, Carlos Slim Foundation (FCS) created the Slim Initiative in Genomic Medicine, whose purpose is to strengthen and accelerate genomic research capacity in Mexico and Latin America.

To achieve this goal, FCS established an alliance with the Broad Institute of MIT, the Harvard University and the National Institute of Genomic Medicine of our country.

The initiative is dedicated to studying the genetic bases of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer (breast, head and neck, lymphoma and cervical cancer, among others) in the Latin American population, in order to address them and develop personalized treatments.

The initiative is based on four pillars:

Promoting and financing research into the genetic bases of certain diseases - such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and various types of cancer - in order to generate preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic elements within the reach of the entire population.

Training of cutting-edge human resources through an exchange program for young Mexican researchers.

Integration of a national multidisciplinary network of researchers in genomic medicine.

Creation of teaching staff with expertise in genomics to train new generations of health professionals in Mexico.

Results

The existence in the Mexican genome of 57 genes associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus found in other populations has been confirmed. Likewise, two new genes -specific to our population- related to this disease were discovered.

As for cancer, new genes were identified that had never before been linked to the occurrence of this disease. To this must be added the discovery of 50 compounds with the potential to be used as next-generation treatments against tumors.

The initiative has generated 30 scientific publications in journals such as Nature and Science, thus laying the foundations for the development of treatments against the diseases studied.

In addition, the first "specific chip" was generated for the Mexican and Latin American population, which evaluates the genetic risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Finally 35 genomic scientific training stays have been supported at the Broad Institute for Mexican researchers, and a network of researchers from 15 national and foreign institutions has been formed.

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