Information exchange and knowledge transfer are key to harnessing genomics research for developing countries, write Josefina Coloma and Eva Harris in a PLoS Medicine essay.
Genomic tools and data are vital to understanding and tackling infectious diseases in developing nations. But scientists in these countries often lack the resources or capacity to undertake genomics research.
North–South collaborations can increase developing countries' access to critical genomic data, suggest the authors.
The trypanosomatid genome projects, that united researchers from East Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States, have already shown that multinational cooperation in sequencing parasites or pathogens can identify new drug targets relevant to developing countries.
Other North–South collaborations can deliver practical genomic tools. For example, a molecular diagnostic tool — adapted by the authors and others to identify infectious diseases such as dengue fever in resource-limited settings — is now routinely used across Latin America.
South–South collaborations allow countries with limited resources to pool human and financial capital and share beneficial results. Regional centres that serve a network of laboratories help make DNA sequencing technology affordable, say the authors.
Accessing sequencing facilities, open-source databases and harmonised methodologies are essential for the future of genomics in the developing world, say the authors. Training and knowledge translation are critical, as are appropriate rules and legislation on genomics, they add.