Monopoly-Polish genetic project moves to drop Chinese technology on data concerns

File Photo: People wearing protective masks walk in Warsaw, Poland, April 2, 2021.Reuters / Katsupel Penpel / File Photo

September 22, 2021

By Joanna Plucinska

Warsaw (Reuters) – European Union-funded project to map Poland’s genome plans to remove gene sequencing technology from China’s BGI Group on data security concerns, project leader One of them told Reuters.

The genomic map of Poland’s concerns stems from questions about how Polish genomic data related to national security is used, says a professor at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry at the Polish Academy of Sciences, which runs the project. Said Marek Figrelovich.

Figlerowicz initially worried that BGI would “collect the gene database of the global Chinese government.”

BGI responded by telling Reuters that the US report was “disinformation, not factual.” China’s Foreign Ministry calls it “unfounded accusations and smears.”

A spokesperson for NSCAI supported the report and recommended that the United States and its allies double down on technologies to better protect patient privacy. Since 2015, Beijing has restricted foreign researchers from accessing Chinese genetic data.

In August, the Human Genetics Commission of the Polish Academy of Sciences said that the “lack of compliance” by what is called a “far eastern enterprise” based on the principles of genetic testing ethics raised serious questions. It did not appoint any company or country, but urged laboratories and scientific institutions to sequence genetics abroad to stop using biotechnology companies there.

Citing estimates that Reuters could not verify, he said that about 100,000 complete Polish genomes could already be in the “Far East” laboratory. According to the Commission, Poland has no control over its sensitive personal data.

Genomic maps, which are expected to cost more than 100 million zloty ($ 25.35 million) and nearly half of the 5,000 Polish genome sequencing program, have been outsourced to a third party since 2019, according to Figlerowicz. ..

The company, Central Europe Genomics Center sp, based in Białystok. He said z oo (CEGC) started using BGI technology last year. Currently, Figrelovich said Poland’s genomic map has decided not to send genetic data abroad and is likely to cancel its contract with CEGC. He added that final decisions that have not yet been approved by funding agencies are expected within the next week or two.

According to Figlerowicz, the mapping project plans to bring the rest of the sequencing in-house as technology for sequencing genetic data advances and becomes cheaper. In this project, we want to ensure that Poland has “independence” of the genome to ensure the security of the data.

CEGC did not respond to a request for comment. Poznan-based biotechnology company Inno-GeneSA, which holds a minority stake in CEGC, said it was unaware of the possibility of cancellation.

The European Union, which provided about 65% of the total funding for the genome map, did not respond to requests for comment. The Polish Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Information Processing were also not involved in funding the project. Polish special services declined to comment.

International security

Reuters reported in July, and BGI will be sold in at least 52 countries in collaboration with PLA hospitals. Reported that it has developed and improved a prenatal screening test. ..

The privacy policy of the test website states that the data collected can be shared if it is “directly related to national security or defense security” in China, but BGI is not required to do so. It states. BGI uses genetic data from pregnant women to investigate the characteristics of the population. We are also working with the PLA in other areas of research.

BGI rejected the proposal to work with the military to develop a test under the brand NIFTY, stating that work in a military hospital is not equivalent.

“BGI takes all aspects of data protection, privacy and ethics very seriously,” the company said in a statement on Polish decisions, saying it complies with all applicable data protection laws and regulations. I added.

“We value the business and research relationships of all our partners and customers in Poland and look forward to continuing to collaborate with them.”

($ 1 = 3.9448 zloty)

(Additional report by Kirsty Needham in Sydney, edited by Sara Ledwith)

Monopoly-Polish genetic project moves to drop Chinese technology on data concerns

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