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Our ancestors will now help us understand brain disorders

Copenhagen is opening the world’s first bank for ancient DNA.

This new scientific centre – the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre – will be a repository solely for the DNA of the long-deceased.
It will be headed by Professor Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen, an internationally renowned DNA detective, specialising in ancient genetic material.

The DNA bank will collect and analyse genetic material from the past – from the Palaeolithic Age around 10,000 years ago up to 1850 AD.

This ancient DNA is extracted from human bones and teeth and stored in archaeological collections in Europe and western Asia.

The aim of the analyses is to glean new knowledge about brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. The ancient DNA will enable researchers to compare genetic factors linked to brain disorders in the past with the genetics identified in the same disorders today.

The bank will accommodate a total of 5,000 complete ancient genomes – the entire DNA code of 5,000 ancient human beings.

The Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre is backed by the Lundbeck Foundation, which has granted DKK 60 million for the project.

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