October 24, 2023
Lagos, Nigeria. 23rd October, 2023. Syndicate Bio, a biotech platform company committed to advancing genomics and precision medicine initiatives across the world’s most diverse regions, announces its strategic partnership with the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), the foremost institute that provides national leadership on cancer research, treatment and control in Nigeria. Together, they have initiated the “Cancer Genome Nigeria” project, a study aimed at bridging cancer disparity gaps by studying the most prevalent cancers across Nigeria's six geopolitical zones and 300+ ethnolinguistic groups.
Launched in September 2023 by Founder Dr Abasi Ene-Obong, alongside Co-Founders Dr. Jumi Popoola and Estelle Dogbo, Syndicate Bio is leveraging collaborations with governments, pharmaceutical companies, academia and other key industry stakeholders to deepen local precision medicine impact while generating invaluable datasets that improve global health outcomes and accelerates drug discovery and development. The strategic partnership will be a coordinated project to address cancer diagnosis and treatment in a game-changing way for patients in Nigeria. Through this project, the availability and accessibility of next-generation sequencing (NGS) based cancer tests in the country, would pave the way for more targeted therapeutics for patients in Nigeria. For long-term and transformative standards of care, participating physicians will also be trained in precision medicine to ensure they are positioned to provide tailored treatment solutions and support genetic counselling services to the patients involved in the program.
Cancer care management challenges are significantly higher in Africa than those in western countries. According to the Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan, breast cancer mortality in Nigeria is alarmingly high at 51%, compared to 19% in the United States. Although the data is not conclusive for prostate cancer, only 45% - 55% of Nigerian men survive up to 5 years after being diagnosed, whereas in the UK and US, 85% and 97%, respectively, will survive their cancer for 5 years and more¹²³. The lack of personalised care solutions in Nigeria are contributing factors of those low survival rates. Additionally, this alarming disparity is explained by evidence showing that drivers of cancer causing mutations in Africans and the African Diaspora might be different from those in other non-African populations. Early detection of cancers and their mutational drivers, alongside targeted therapies will improve care management and survival rates in Nigeria and Africa at large. This partnership is set to pioneer the use of NGS technology in Nigeria to decode the genomic profile of prevalent cancers. This will provide patient-centric care, access to life-saving diagnostics, personalised genetic reports and therapeutics. As part of this study, the partnership aims to develop a research resource tool that will be useful for global preclinical and clinical cancer research, as well as promote the widespread adoption of targeted therapeutics in treating cancer in Nigeria.
Debuting with a pilot study involving 100 participants and sequencing the top oncogenes associated with solid tumours (breast, prostate, NSCLC, liver and colorectal cancer) in the country, the initiative is set to expand to up to 10,000 patients in the next 5 years.
This bold initiative will set the tone for ethical research at scale, provide real time benefits to patients and their caregivers and will help generate data to understand mutational signatures in cancers and their frequencies in Nigeria.