Neurogenomics in Africa: Perspectives, progress, possibilities and priorities

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25 Scopus citations

Abstract

The understanding of the genetic basis of neurological disorders has grown rapidly in the last two decades. Despite the genomic heterogeneity within African populations, large-scale candidate gene or linkage and exome studies are lacking. However, current knowledge on neurogenetics in African populations is limited and geographically very uneven. Isolated reports indicate the existence of autosomal dominant or recessive conditions incorporating cerebrovascular, movement, neuromuscular, seizure and motor neuron disorders in Africans. In addition, few African families with neurodegenerative disorders associated with dementia have been characterized in North, West and South Africa. The current insurgency in genomic research triggered by among others the Human Health and Heredity (H3) Africa Initiative indicates that there are unique opportunities to advance our knowledge and understanding of the influence of genomic variation on the pattern, presentations and prognosis of neurological disorders in Africa. These have enormous potential to unmask novel genes and molecular pathways germane to the neurobiology of brain disorders. It would facilitate the development of novel diagnostics, preventative and targeted treatments in the new paradigm of precision medicine. Nevertheless, it is crucial to strike a balance between effective traditional public health strategies and personalized genome based care. The translational barriers can be overcome through robust stakeholder engagement and sustainable multilevel, multigenerational and multidisciplinary capacity building and infrastructural development for genomic medicine in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Volume366
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 15 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Africa
  • Burden of disease
  • Capacity building
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Neurological disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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