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How you are transforming health for the future

Peering into your proteome

UK Biobank-approved scientists from around the globe now have access to de-identified data on 3,000 proteins from over 54,000 of you.

Proteins are complex molecules that play a role in nearly every process in living organisms and are essential for cells to function. The collection of all your proteins is known as your ‘proteome’ and it is of increasing interest for scientists, who can now detect some diseases by changes in protein abundance.

If the abundance of a particular protein is different in people with or without a disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease, that protein may be used as a signal, a ‘biomarker’, to alert us.

Scientists can then use these biomarkers to investigate what causes the disease and how it progresses. This can lead to the development of new treatments and earlier diagnoses.

The intricate structures of proteins in our bodies

Global scientific discoveries are being made because of you

Predicting Parkinson’s disease ahead of time

Research that monitored people’s daily activity and their speed of movement has found that early signs of Parkinson’s disease can be detected several years before diagnosis.

Scientists analysed data from UK Biobank participants who wore activity monitors and observed that slower movement is a reliable early predictor of Parkinson’s disease.

The findings highlight the potential to use wearable technology for early diagnosis and treatment.

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Deciphering the links between physical activity, sleep & health

Technology to measure motion has also been used to advance our understanding of the link between physical activity, sleep and health.

Researchers at the University of Oxford (funded by the health research charity Wellcome, life sciences company Novo Nordisk and the insurance company Swiss Re) found from UK Biobank data that sleeping for less than 6 hours a night is associated with a higher risk of death.

The research also established that increasing physical activity lowered the risk of some cancers and cardiovascular disease.

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Personalised prevention based on genes

In a world-first trial, a tool was developed that used UK Biobank genetic data to enhance heart disease risk assessment in GP practices. The study examined how combinations of genetic variants across individuals’ genomes influence disease.

24% of participating patients aged 45-64 had their risk of heart disease reclassified: some who had previously been classed as low risk were actually found to be at high risk based on inclusion of their genetic risk score in the study. The findings could help to identify subgroups of the population who may benefit from targeted preventative measures.

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Biological samples in UK Biobank

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