Intermountain Healthcare and deCODE genetics have announced a major global collaboration and study focused on discovering new connections between genetics and human disease that will involve the collection of half a million DNA samples.
The initiative, called the HerediGene: Population Study, represents the largest and most comprehensive DNA mapping effort to date in the United States from a single population. For the study, which is voluntary and free to participants, Intermountain teams will work with deCODE to analyze the genomes of 500,000 people from Intermountain’s patient population, primarily in Utah and Idaho.
Intermountain Healthcare is a Utah-based not-for-profit integrated healthcare delivery network, and deCODE Genetics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amgen based in Reykjavik, Iceland. The collaborative effort combines Intermountain’s internationally-recognized expertise in precision medicine and clinical care with deCODE’s world-class expertise in human population genetics.
“While the 500,000 samples will be collected primarily from patients in Utah, the research is expected to have a global impact as medications, treatments, and healthcare innovations that can benefit patients universally are developed from the findings,” said Lincoln Nadauld, MD, PhD, Intermountain’s chief of precision health. “The collaboration is noteworthy and unique in its size, scope, and immediate application to patient care.”
Participants in the study will consent to the testing and have the option to receive their genetic results report, if a clinically significant gene mutation is identified. The data will be de-identified to ensure anonymity before it is utilized in research to help medical professionals better understand the human genome, which will enhance their ability to predict and prevent diseases such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease.
“This unique collaboration is expected to uncover new insights into some of society’s most debilitating diseases,” noted Kári Stefánsson, MD, Dr. Med., founder and chief executive officer of deCODE genetics. “Our partnership with Intermountain Healthcare is important as we continue to identify and validate human disease targets. These potential discoveries will allow deCODE and Amgen to rapidly develop new medicines that reach the right disease targets.”
Intermountain will leverage its renowned precision genomics efforts to improve patient outcomes and transform medicine. Intermountain’s precision medicine team analyzes individual differences in genetics, environments, and lifestyles and helps medical professionals specifically target the illnesses of each patient and identify the treatments that will best help them.
“Better health and being able to cure common diseases is the promise of precision medicine, but it’s not happening fast enough,” said Marc Harrison, MD, president and chief executive officer at Intermountain Healthcare. “For too long, the genetic code to better health has been locked. This collaboration with deCODE unlocks that insight so we can rapidly advance well-being – not only for ourselves and our families, but for generations to come.”
Insights from the collaboration may power fundamental changes to better understand the human genome, improve health, and prevent common diseases.